The Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday approved a draft ordinance that aims to curb forced religious conversions for marriage, or ‘love jihad’. With this, the Uttar Pradesh government plans to deal with the issue of love jihad strictly and violators may face imprisonment of up to 10 years.
Cabinet minister and UP government spokesperson Sidharth Nath Singh revealed that the state Cabinet has cleared the ordinance in the meeting chaired by the chief minister. He said there was a need to bring a law in this regard as conversions are being done using lies, deceit, force and dishonesty. It is heart-wrenching, he added.
Punishment for love jihad
The government spokesperson said punishment under the new law is a jail term from one and five years and a fine of Rs 15,000. But if the woman involved is a minor or belongs to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, the jail term would range from three to 10 years, he said. The fine would increase to Rs 25,000.
“In the case of mass conversions, the punishment is from three years to 10 years and a fine of Rs 50,000 on the organisations which indulge in it,” he said.
Singh said if anyone wants to change religion after marriage, then he or she can do so. But the district magistrate has to be informed two months in advance in a prescribed form, and the person can convert once permission is granted.
Other BJP states also plan similar laws
In recent weeks, BJP-run states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have revealed plans to enact laws to counter alleged attempts to convert Hindu women to Islam in the guise of marriage, which Hindu activists refer to as “love jihad”.
Madhya Pradesh’s home minister Narottam Mishra last week said that the state government will table a secular law in the upcoming Assembly session to check the problem of love jihad.
He said: “We are making preparations to introduce Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2020 in Assembly. It will provide for 5 years of rigorous imprisonment. We’re also proposing that such crimes be declared a cognizable and non-bailable offence.”
Mishra further added that even those who assist others in doing ‘love jihad’ will also be held guilty under the new law and be punished accordingly. Not only that, those who force conversion after an interfaith marriage, they will also be held guilty under the anti-love jihad law of the Madhya Pradesh government.
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