Madhya Pradesh govt to table Bill against 'love jihad'

Madhya Pradesh govt to table Bill against 'love jihad'

Forceful conversions and marriages will be a cognisable offence and non-bailable, says Mishra

MP Home Minister Narottam Mishra. Credit: PTI Photo

Cementing their position on what has a hotly-contested issue, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana signalled on Tuesday that they will enact laws to regulate interfaith marriages between Hindu women and Muslim men. If the laws are brought in, these two states would become the first to crack down on what is termed "love jihad" by Hindu activists.

Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra on Tuesday said that the Madhya Pradesh Dharm Swatantrey (freedom of religion) Bill, 2020 will be passed in the upcoming state Assembly session, adding that the law would have a provision of a five-year prison sentence for those forcing Hindu women to convert for marriage.

Mishra insisted that the BJP was not opposed to interfaith unions but was against cases of ‘love jihad’. “The forceful conversions and marriages will be a cognisable offence and non-bailable. There will be a provision for declaring such marriages null and void,” said Mishra.

One of the proposed provisions includes making it mandatory for the family of the person being converted for marriage to file a complaint, according to a report by Hindustan Times, quoting sources. 

The announcement from Mishra comes about two weeks after CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan indicated the govt’s commitment to end forced conversions for marriage. Madhya Pradesh is now the third state after Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to propose such a law.

Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath, on October 31, welcomed Allahabad High Court’s ruling that declared conversion for the sole purpose of marriage as null and void. He said that the state government would deal with ‘love jihad’ sternly.

"We will bring an effective law. It is my warning to those who play with the honour and dignity of sisters and daughters by hiding their real names and identities, if they do not mend their ways, the Ram Naam Satya journey will start," said CM Adityanath.

Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij later said that the state would form a committee to draft a law against "love jihad". “We will first have a discussion with the chief minister, ML Khattar in this regard,” he said. Anil Vij told the state Assembly on November 6 that the government was mulling on enacting a law to counter forced conversion.

Madhya Pradesh Assembly Protem Speaker Rameshwar Sharma reacted on "love jihad" and said that Pakistan and ISI agents conspire to convert Sita to Rubiya. “Pakistan and ISI agents conspire to convert Sita to Rubiya. How long will we let Sita become Rubiya, how long will we let Sita die? Show me true love like Nargis & Sunil Dutt. Tell me how many Nargis married Sunil Dutt?” he asked.