Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Thursday said that he has instructed the police to take stringent action in cases of forced religious conversions, reported The Indian Express.
Dhami noted that there was already a law against such conversions – the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018 – in the state. “Law and the police will act strictly on love jihad and we will make the law stricter,” he told reporters.
“Love jihad” is a conspiracy theory espoused by Hindutva activists, who allege that Hindu women are forcibly converted by Muslims through marriage.
The Uttarakhand government had passed the Act in April 2018. It prohibits the religious conversions for marriage. Under the law, “forced or fraudulent conversions done through force or allurement” are non-bailable offences and can lead to imprisonment of up to five years.
On the matter of forced religious conversion, a senior police officer told The Indian Express that only a few cases have been registered under the Act in last few years. The officer said the citizens need to be made aware about the law and its provisions should be strictly implemented to prevent incidents of forced religious conversions.
Besides Uttarakhand, various Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states, including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, have laws against interfaith marriages under the fig leaf of “love jihad”.
The Haryana government had also formed a three-member drafting committee in November to frame a law against forced religious conversion.
However, the BJP-led central government had itself told the Lok Sabha in 2019 that no “case of ‘love jihad’ had been reported by any of the central agencies”. The National Commission for Women also does not maintain any data about “love jihad”.