Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij on Tuesday said a committee will be set up to draft a strict law against “love jihad”, a conspiracy theory used by right-wing groups who accuse Muslim men of converting Hindu women by marriage, NDTV reported.
Vij’s announcement came on the same day Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in the state will introduce a “love jihad law” in the Assembly, which includes five years of rigorous imprisonment for violators.
“We have decided to set up a drafting committee comprising members from the home department and office of the advocate general Haryana to make a strict law against ‘love jihad’,” said Vij, who chaired a meeting with senior officials of the home department, according to The Times of India. “We will also have a detailed discussion with the chief minister.”
Last month, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, too, had said his government was looking into the Constitutional legality of a law that would prevent “love jihad” in Haryana.
The home minister said that “with the enactment of this law, strict action will be taken against any person who is found indulging in religious conversion by pressuring, tempting someone or is involved in any kind of conspiracy or tries to do so in the name of love”.
Vij added that he had also reached out to the government of Himachal Pradesh, which passed a similar law last year to stop Muslim men from persuading Hindu women to marry them and convert to Islam. When asked about the need for such an ordinance, the home minister referred to the death of a 21-year-old student in Faridabad.
Nikita Tomar was shot dead outside her college in Ballabgarh on October 27 by a man against whom her family had filed a complaint in 2018. The family alleged the killing was linked to “love jihad”. Two accused – Touseef and Rehan – have since been arrested.
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Haryana and Madhya Pradesh are the latest to join the list of BJP-ruled states – which includes Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh – that have recently spoken about introducing laws against “love jihad”.
Although the Union Home Ministry in February told parliament that “love Jihad” is not defined under the current laws of the country, the matter has made headlines, pitting activists against their religious peers and government officials.
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, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath made similar promises and warned men who “hide their identities” and “play with the honour of sisters” to get ready for their own funerals, even though there is no law that sentences an individual to death for marrying a woman on the basis of a concealed identity.
Adityanath referred to a recent Allahabad High Court judgement that said religious conversion just for the purpose of marriage is unacceptable. “We will make an impactful legislation against love jihad,” the chief minister had said.
In the same month, jewellery brand Tanishq pulled an advertisement featuring a baby shower for an inter-faith couple, following backlash from Hindutva supporters on social media for allegedly promoting “love jihad”. The company said it had made the decision “keeping in mind... the well-being of our employees, partners and store staff”. The withdrawal of the ad drew sharp criticism from many who said the company was succumbing to right-wing extremism.