Love Jihad Criminalisation Law On The Agenda Of At Least Five BJP-Ruled States
Madhya Pradesh is on its way to implement a new ‘love jihad’ law that will make forced inter-faith marriages and conversion a non-bailable offence
India is known as one of the most diverse countries in the world, one that has been witness to multiple faiths. Yet, there seems to be a growing religious intolerance that has taken the shape of a politicised matter.
Love Jihad is a phenomenon primarily coined by the right-wing parties of the country and used to refer to the forceful marriages and conversions of innocent Hindu women to Islam by prying Muslim men. As many as five Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled states are planning to implement a new law against Love Jihad, with Madhya Pradesh leading the proposition.
The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government recently announced its decision to legislate against what it believes is a growing crime. Despite the central government responding to a question in parliament in February 2020 and agreeing that the concept is not defined till date, the MP administration has decided to impose a law. In its endeavour to stop forcible marriage seduction and forced conversion, Muslim youths could be jailed for five years on a non-bailable offence if they are found guilty under the yet-to-be coined rule. Further, a faith conversion after marriage will only be legalised if the district magistrate is notified a month before the wedding.
Senior lawyer Vrinda Grover opposed this move calling it a breach of rights of adult women who should be making their own choice of a life partner. She asserted that laws curbing and prohibiting forcible marriages and coercion in husband-wife relationships are already existent in the country, which makes it a useless effort to add another law. Adding that there is no factual basis for Love Jihad to be introduced as an offence, it could lead to an unnecessary targeting of innocent men or inter-faith couples.
BJP Spokesperson Hitesh Bajpai on the other hand saw no concerns with the development. He stated that young girls are fooled by calculative men of the other faith and converted even before they can process what has happened to them.
Other states moving swiftly on introducing the Love Jihad criminalisation are Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Haryana.
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