Narottam Mishra, current Home Minister of Madhya Pradesh, recently announced the decision to introduce a law against ‘love jihad‘ in the central BJP-ruled state. The bill for it, he said, would be floated in the next session of the assembly, and the consequent law would act as a deterrent to crimes fuelled by alleged communal conversion. The minister said ‘love jihad’ crimes will be registered with a stringent punishment of jail time up to five years. This announcement comes tailing similar legislative considerations by the BJP governments in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, which have proposed taking an iron hand with inter-religious relations they claim often end in violence.
“We are making preparations to introduce Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2020 in Assembly. It’ll provide for 5 yrs of rigorous imprisonment. We’re also proposing that such crimes be declared a cognisable & non-bailable offence,” Mishra was quoted saying. “There will be provision to declare marriages taking place forcefully, out of fraud or by tempting someone, for religious conversion, null and void. Those assisting in committing this crime will also be considered a party to the crime.”
‘Love Jihad’ In UP
The concept of ‘love jihad’ primarily pivots around interfaith Hindu-Muslim relations that believers claim is a way for the latter religion to forcefully convert Hindus to Islam on the pretext of love/marriage. Recently, the issue came under high glare following a ruling by the Allahabad High Court, which said that religious conversion just for the purpose of marriage was not acceptable. The court made this statement while dismissing a writ petition filed by a married Hindu-Muslim couple seeking police protection three months after their marriage. Read more here.
Hailing the court’s ruling, UP CM Yogi Adityanath had declared an “effective law” against ‘love jihad’, issuing a warning to those who “played with the honour” of “sisters and daughters” in the state. He had also contentiously claimed that “Ram Naam Satya yatra (funeral processions)” of such people would be taken out.
Legal Provisions Against Love Jihad In Haryana
On October 26, a 21-year-old girl was shot by her alleged stalker in Faridabad, Haryana. The daylight crime was caught on a CCTV, the footage of which had gone viral leading to massive social media outrage. According to the police and the girl’s parents, a Muslim man (one of the accused) was pressuring her to convert to his religion. Read our full report here.
Following the incident, Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar said that his government was considering to bring in legal provisions to deal with cases of “love jihad” in the state. He was quoted saying, “Since the Ballabhgarh woman’s murder case is linked with love jihad, the Centre and state government are looking into it, and considering legal provisions so that those guilty are not able to escape.”