The Uttar Pradesh Police registered its first case under the new ordinance to deal with religious conversion for the sake of marriage, against a Muslim man in the state’s Bareilly district on Saturday, the Hindustan Times reported.
The first information report was lodged under sections of the Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, hours after it was promulgated by Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel.
Additional Director General Bareilly zone Avinash Chandra told the newspaper that the FIR was registered at the Deorania police station in Bareilly, after a resident of the Sharifnagar village accused the Muslim man of mounting pressure on his daughter to convert her to Islam.
The complainant, identified as Tikram, alleged the accused wanted to “coerce, coax and allure her into converting”, according to The Hindu. “Despite repeated disapprovals by me and my family, he [the Muslim man] is not listening, and is applying pressure on me and my family through abuses and death threats to fulfil his desire,” he told the newspaper.
Superintendent of Police (Rural) Bareilly Sansar Singh said a case against the accused for kidnapping the girl had already been filed before. “He was pressuring her to convert from her religion and marry,” Singh said.
“A case has been now filed under Sections 3 and 5 of the new ordinance,” Singh added, according to NDTV. He has also been booked under Sections 504 (for insulting a person) and 506 (for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code. “The boy is on the run, we are looking to arrest him,” the police official added.
Uttar Pradesh’s new law on forced conversions delivers a promise by Chief Minister Adityanath to tackle “love jihad” – a conspiracy theory espoused by right-wing Hindu activists, alleging that Hindu women are forcibly converted by Muslims through marriage. The new law in the state makes religious conversion a non-bailable offence, inviting penalties up to 10 years in prison if found to be guilty of using marriage to force someone to change religion.
Violation of provisions of the law provides for a jail term of one to five years with a penalty of Rs 15,000 for forceful religious conversion. For conversions of minors and women of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes community, there will be jail term of three to 10 years with a Rs 25,000 penalty. In cases of forced mass conversions, the ordinance has provisions for a jail term of three to 10 years with a Rs 50,000 fine.
Further, according to the new law, if an individual wants to marry after converting to any other religion, they will need to take permission from the district magistrate two months before the wedding.
The ordinance was approved on Tuesday, a day after the Allahabad High Court struck down a previous order that had deemed religious conversions only for the sake of marriage unacceptable, saying that the decision was “not good in law”. A division bench of Justices Vivek Agarwal and Pankaj Naqvi noted that interference in a personal relationship would constitute a serious encroachment on the right to freedom of choice of two individuals.
Apart from Uttar Pradesh, four other BJP-ruled states have also decided to introduce laws aimed at preventing inter-faith marriage.
The Madhya Pradesh government on Wednesday doubled the jail term for forced religious conversions for marriage from five years to 10 years in its draft bill against “love jihad”, while the Haryana government has formed a three-member drafting committee to frame a law on the matter. Karnataka and Assam governments have made similar announcements.
In February, the Centre told the Lok Sabha that no “case of ‘love jihad’ has been reported by any of the central agencies”.