Is love jihad spectre haunting India again? 5 BJP-ruled states plan strict laws

Updated: 21 November, 2020 08:53 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

While arguments can be made that the Special Marriages Act allows for a special form of marriage, its elaborate process is time consuming, which may be a reason that one of the partners opt for a religious conversion in an inter-faith marriage

Photo used for representational purpose
Photo used for representational purpose

Five BJP-ruled states are planning to bring in laws to curb ‘love jihad’ – a conspiracy theory allegedly coined by right-wing activists, who believe that “innocent” and “gullible” Hindu women are tricked into marriage by Muslim men for conversion to Islam.

While arguments can be made that the Special Marriages Act allows for a special form of marriage for the people of India to marry irrespective of their religion, its elaborate process is time-consuming, which may be a reason that one of the partners opt for religious conversion in an inter-faith marriage.

Though the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told the Lok Sabha in February that 'love jihad' is not defined in law and no case has been reported by any central agencies, the fact that five states are serious about bringing legislations to stop it is quite unforeseen.

Here is the list of BJP-ruled stated that are planning laws against ‘love jihad’

UTTAR PRADESH

The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has decided to bring in stringent legislation against 'love jihad' citing cases are on the rise in the state.

The Home Department has sent a proposal to the Law Department in this regard. The Law Department will work out the legal modalities after which the government is likely to issue an ordinance in this regard.

The state government's decision comes after the chief minister had said in a by-election meeting in Jaunpur in October that his government was planning a strict law against ‘love jihad’.

Yogi Adityanath was the first BJP chief minister who spoke about bringing a law against ‘love jihad’. In a speech that went viral, Adityanath had said, "We will bring an effective law. It's my warning to all those who play with the honour and dignity of our sisters and daughters by not revealing their real names and identities. If they do not mend their ways, their 'Ram Naam Satya' journey will start."

On November 5, a plea was moved in the Supreme Court seeking setting aside of an Allahabad High Court order, which held that conversions just for the sake of marriage are invalid. The plea said the Constitution provides for right to freedom of religion and also right to convert into any religion as many times as one wants to with no tabs.

In the order passed on September 23, the High Court had declined police protection to a married couple in a case where a Muslim girl had converted to Hinduism and married a Hindu boy.

MADHYA PRADESH

The Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led Madhya Pradesh government is all set to table the Madhya Pradesh Religious Freedom Bill, 2020, in the upcoming Assembly session with the aim to introduce a new law to put an end to incidents of religious conversion and 'love-jihad' in the state.

According to the proposed Act there will be a provision of imprisonment for up to five years for those indulging in or abetting forceful religious conversions.

State Home Minister Dr. Narottam Mishra said the state government will introduce a Bill prohibiting marriage on the basis of religious conversions in the state. This Bill, he said, will declare forceful religious conversions and love-jihad as a non-bailable offence wherein the main accused and his/her associates in crime will be awarded a rigorous punishment upto five years.

The CM had said love-jihad and marriage on the pretext of religious conversion in any form will not be tolerated as it is an illegal and unlawful activity so a law will soon be made to curb it.

KARNATAKA

On November 5, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa said the state government is already in talks with experts to frame a law that will ban religious conversions for marriages. He said, “I agree with my party colleagues that we need a law to ban religious conversions for the sake marriage.”

“Most of them have agreed that the state needs a robust legal framework to prevent such conversions. For some, even Love has taken the shape of Jihad,” he said.

HARYANA

On November 17, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij said a stringent law will be enacted to control ‘love jihad’ cases, and a committee will be formed for the same.

 “We have decided to set up a drafting committee comprising members from the Home Department and Office of the Advocate General Haryana to make a strict law against 'love jihad'. We will also have a detailed discussion with the Chief Minister,” Vij had told ANI.

His assertion came in the wake of the killing of 21-year-old college student Nikita Tomar in Haryana's Ballabhgarh in October. The victim's family had alleged that the accused was pressuring her to convert to Islam in order to marry him.

ASSAM

BJP minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that if his party returns to power in 2021 elections in Assam, they will ensure jail term for anyone who harasses an Assamese girl or makes her a victim of love jihad by hiding identity.

“Social media is new menace since it is helping in promoting love jihad. Through social media Assamese girls are falling prey to love jihad... this is a cultural aggression on our society and later these girls might have to face talaq ...," Biswa had said.

WHAT RAJASTHAN CHIEF MINISTER SAID?

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday gave a strong statement on 'love-jihad' and said that it is a term manufactured by the BJP to divide the nation. "Marriage is a matter of personal liberty and bringing a law to curb it is completely unconstitutional," he tweeted.

Gehlot took to Twitter and unleashed a series of tweets to express his thoughts on 'love-jihad' to say, "Love Jihad is a word manufactured by BJP to divide the Nation & disturb communal harmony. Marriage is a matter of personal liberty, bringing a law to curb it is completely unconstitutional & it will not stand in any court of law. Jihad has no place in Love."

In the second tweet, he said, "They are creating an environment in the nation where consenting adults would be at the mercy of state power. Marriage is a personal decision & they are putting curbs on it, which is like snatching away personal liberty."

In the third tweet on 'love-jihad', he said, "It seems a ploy to disrupt communal harmony, fuel social conflict & disregard constitutional provisions like the state not discriminating against citizens on any ground.

CONTROVERSY OVER TANISHQ AD ON INTERFAITH COUPLE

In October, Titan Group’s jewellery brand Tanishq had released a commercial to promote its new collection 'Ekatvam' which means union.

The video was set in the backdrop of the baby shower of a Hindu woman married into a Muslim family. It showed how she gears up for the function and her in-laws treat her with utmost care and respect.

Also Read: Tanishq Takes Down Ad On Interfaith Couple Amid Social Media Outrage

However, this did not go down well with a section of the Twitterati who soon started accusing Tanishq of promoting love-jihad. #Boycott Tanishq started trending across social media platforms mainly on Twitter. Owing to the incessant trolls, Tanishq had to take down the commercial.

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First Published: 21 November, 2020 08:22 IST

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