Lucknow: Two days after the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Madhya Pradesh proposed a Bill which intends to make ‘Love Jihad’ an offence, another BJP-ruled state led by Yogi Adityanath is now following suit.
The Uttar Pradesh government’s Home Department has sent a draft proposal against ‘Love Jihad’ in the state to the Law Department about the proposed Act on Friday. Under the new law, the punishment for ‘Love Jihad’ will be five years of imprisonment and the offence will be non-bailable. There could also be a provision for a heavy fine.
Speaking to media persons in Lucknow about the proposed draft, UP Law Minister Brajesh Pathak said that ‘Love Jihad’ is “disrupting the communal harmony of the state. The draft of the new law is being prepared and would be made available in the public domain shortly for getting suggestions from common people,” he added.
“This law will be a warning for those youth to refrain from such dubious activities or else be ready to face the strictest punishment. Several girls are being converted to other religions and being forced to change their name on the pretext of marriages, which should stop at any cost. Otherwise be ready to face the consequences,” said Pathak.
According to the minister, under the new law, forceful conversion of any girl would be punishable and hiding facts (name/religion) before marriage would result in the union being voided.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has been working on devising a 'Love Jihad' law for over a year now. He raised the issue frequently in his rallies and speeches. During a rally in Uttar Pradesh' Amroha during bypolls, the CM had said that his government will come out with a law to deal with 'Love Jihad' and used the Hindu funeral chant 'Ram Naam Satya Hai' to threaten those who supposedly do not respect Hindu women.
A government source who wished to remain anonymous told NewsClick that the move comes after a detailed report was submitted to the Chief Minister's office after a survey was conducted by the state’s Law Department. Based on the survey, a draft proposal against 'Love Jihad' has now been submitted to the home ministry by the law department.
Reacting to the move by the Yogi government, the All India Muslim Women’s Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) has raised its objection to the proposal, calling the idea against the “soul of the Constitution.”
Speaking to NewsClick, Shaista Amber, president of the AIMWPLB, said: “It is the duty of all citizens and governments to protect the Constitution of India and Indian culture. What does the government want to prove by enacting this law?” she asked, mentioning that the term was coined by right-wing Hindutva activists as a pejorative for inter-religious marriages between Hindus and Muslims.
Echoing similar sentiments, legal expert Qayyum Khan said: “The BJP is trying to create a fear psychosis among the Muslim community. By implementing such law, they are even snatching the personal liberty of young people. Marriage is a matter of personal liberty, bringing a law to curb it is completely unconstitutional and will not stand in any court of law,” said Khan.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij, after a meeting with senior officials, said that a committee will be set up to draft a “strict” law against 'Love Jihad'. He also said that Haryana will study the laws made by other states in this regard.
The Home Minister said that “with the enactment of this law, strict action will be taken against any person who is found indulging in religious conversion by pressuring, tempting someone or is involved in any kind of conspiracy or tries to do so in the name of love”.
Vij had told the Haryana Assembly in the last month that the state government is considering a law against 'Love Jihad' and has sought information from Himachal Pradesh, which had passed a Bill about the same.