Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Friday said that his government was dealing strictly with matters related to forced religious conversions and cow slaughter, reported Ahmedabad Mirror.
Rupani said that his government had brought in several laws with strict provisions.
“Be it the law to save cows from slaughter, the law to stop land grabbing, or the law to punish those involved in chain-snatching,” the chief minister said. “We also brought a law to stop ‘love jihad’. We are dealing strictly with those who trap Hindu girls and elope with them.”
The chief minister was speaking at a ground breaking ceremony of building of the Raika Education Charitable Trust in Ahmedabad.
“Love jihad” is a conspiracy theory espoused by Hindutva activists, who allege that Hindu women are forcibly converted by Muslims through marriage.
In February 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government had told the Lok Sabha that no case of “love jihad” had been reported by any of the central agencies. But several BJP-led state governments have adopted laws against “love jihad”.
The Rupani-led government had passed the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, in the state Assembly in April and notified it in June.
The law aims to stop the “emerging trend in which women are lured to marriage for the purpose of religious conversion”. It also provides for a punishment of three to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh.
On August 19, the Gujarat High Court had ordered a stay on several sections of the Act, including the one defining interfaith marriage as a reason for forceful conversion.
However, hours after the verdict, the state government said that it would file an appeal against the stay order in the Supreme Court.
The Gujarat government had also passed the Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, in 2017. Under this law, slaughtering cattle, including cows, calves and bulls can result in a minimum of 10 years in jail for the offenders. The prison term could extend to a life sentence.
On Friday, Rupani also said that his government had provided subsidised fodder and saved lakhs of cows from starvation two years ago, reported PTI. This happened when Banaskantha and Kutch talukas received scanty rainfall, he added.
Gujarat Home Minister Pradipsinh Jadeja said that Rupani has had an important role in bringing the law against cow slaughter.
“Thirty-three crore deities live inside a cow,” he said, according to PTI. “That is why we brought a law [on cow slaughter]. Before the law was introduced in the Assembly, Chief Minster Rupani called me to his cabin and clearly told me there is no need to show sympathy for those who do not show mercy to cows.”