Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra on Tuesday said that the state government will soon introduce a law against “love jihad”, with a jail term of five years, ANI reported. “Love jihad” is a term frequently used by Hindutva organisations to allege a conspiracy by Muslim men to marry women from other religions solely to convert them to Islam.
“[We are] making preparations to introduce Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2020 in [the] Assembly,” Mishra was quoted as saying by the news agency. “It’ll provide for 5 years of rigorous imprisonment. We’re also proposing that such crimes be declared a cognisable and non-bailable offence.”
The minister added that there will also be a provision to declare forced marriages or those involving conversion void. “Under this [the provision], the person who has been converted, their parents/siblings will have to mandatorily file a complaint for action,” Mishra said.
He added that the religious leader who will carry out the conversion process will have to inform the district magistrate one month in advance. “We’ll introduce this Bill in next session,” Mishra added.
Madhya Pradesh is the latest to join the list of Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states – which includes Karnataka, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh – that have spoken about introducing laws against “love jihad”.
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had said earlier this month that his government would take measures to end religious conversions in the name of “love jihad”. Before that, his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar had said that he was considering introducing “legal provisions” to curb “love jihad” cases in his state.
On October 30, the Allahabad High Court had noted that religious conversion just for the sake of marriage was not acceptable. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, citing the court’s order, had said that his government would make a new law to stop “love jihad”.
However, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had on February 4 told the Lok Sabha that there was no such thing as “love jihad” defined under the current laws in the country.