The Maharashtra government on Thursday formed a 13-member coordination panel, led by a minister, to find out about interfaith marriages in the state and maintain a record about such couples and their families, PTI reported.

The new government resolution stated that the panel has been named interfaith marriage-family coordination committee (state level), The Indian Express reported.

On Tuesday, the government had announced that the panel will also look at inter-caste couples. However, these couples have been dropped from the committee’s purview.

“The state government is encouraging inter-caste marriages and there is also a plan to give financial rewards to those who do it,” said Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. “It is alarming that there has been an increase in cases of cheating in interfaith marriages in some parts of the state. Therefore, fraud in the name of love jihad has to be stopped,”

Love jihad is an unproven conspiracy theory used by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and Hindutva groups to accuse Muslim men of converting Hindu women by the lure of marriage.

Meanwhile, the panel – now exclusively confined to scrutinise interfaith marriages – will be headed by state’s Women and Child Development Mangal Prabhat Lodha, The Hindu reported. He said that the move was aimed at avoiding a repeat of the Shraddha Walkar murder case.

Walkar (26) from Mumbai was killed by her live-in partner Aftab Poonawala in Delhi in May. He chopped her body into pieces and buried them in Delhi.

Lodha said that in this case, Walkar’s family was unaware of her murder, which he described as scary.

“Just as we counsel couples going for divorces to explore possible ways to stay together, the panel will counsel the women estranged from their families to resume contact,” he said.

The Nationalist Congress Party, which is in the Opposition in Maharashtra, has objected to the panel.

Party MLA and former minister Jitendra Awhad said that the state government must stay away from personal matters of couples.

“What’s this rubbish of committee to check inter-caste/religion marriages?” he tweeted. “Who is the government to spy on who marries whom? In liberal Maharashtra, this is a retrograde, nauseating step.”

Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Clyde Crasto said that the panel should be available to women irrespective of any religion, caste or faith, India Today.

“If they do not, then it will be clear that this panel is set up with mala fide intentions,” he said.