The Uttar Pradesh government has cleared an ordinance against unlawful religious conversion to check ‘love jihad’. As per the new law, offenders will face a jail term of 1 to 5 years and a Rs 15,000 for forceful religious conversions.
The Uttar Pradesh cabinet on Tuesday decided to introduce an ordinance, clearing a law against unlawful religious conversion for the sake of marriage to check ‘love jihad’.
State minister Siddharth Nath Singh announced that the ordinance against unlawful religious conversions has been cleared by the UP cabinet today. The ordinance provides for a jail term of 1-5 years with Rs 15,000 penalty for forceful religious conversion.
“UP CM Yogi Adityanath and the cabinet ministers have passed the law against love jihad. No woman should be converted under the idea of manipulation and love. If someone wants to convert after marriage, that person should follow the rule and do it in proper process in front of the Zila district magistrate,” Singh said.
For conversions of minors and women of SC/ST community, there will be a jail term of three to 10 years with a Rs 25,000 penalty. In case of mass conversion, offenders can be penalised with a jail term of 3-10 years and a fine of at least Rs 50,000.
The new law cleared in Uttar Pradesh is on the lines of the new law proposed by the Madhya Pradesh government. A few weeks ago, the Madhya Pradesh government said it was mulling a law against ‘love jihad’. Madhya Pradesh minister Narottam Mishra had made the announcement.
Soon after Madhya Pradesh’s announcement, reports were abuzz that Uttar Pradesh was also mulling a similar law to prevent ‘love jihad’ or unlawful religious conversion for the sake of marriage.
It was earlier reported that the Uttar Pradesh home department sent a proposal to the Department of Law for the approval of the law.
Earlier, UP Law Minister Brajesh Pathak said, “Such issues were affecting communal harmony in the state which needed to be taken seriously. The government had already planned to take this up as law and the procedure has started.”
“It will be a warning for those to refrain from such acts else they will have to bear strict punishment. We can’t reveal the facts but the government will make a very strict law with high penalty and imprisonment. The draft is being prepared and will soon be available in the public domain. We have taken all the measures and making a law is the only way to deal with it,” he had said.
However, the law targeting ‘love jihad’ has been criticised by many leaders. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the term ‘love jihad’ has been coined by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to divide the nation.
Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi was another leader who slammed BJP and RSS over the issue of ‘love jihad’. “Indian women have rights under the constitution, but BJP and RSS feel that they will dictate Indian women when it comes to choosing a life partner. India is a nation of strong women. They have made their own careers, they have reached success on their own merit. Today, the women of India are educated, empowered. Nobody in the government should feel like they can dictate them,” Gaurav Gogoi said.
However, several BJP leaders like Devendra Fadnavis and Giriraj Singh backed laws against unlawful religious conversions or ‘love jihad’.