The police in Madhya Pradesh’s Shahdol city arrested a man on Sunday for allegedly pressurising his wife to change her religion, ANI reported. The person has been booked under sections of Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 1968.
“The woman, a Hindu, lodged a complaint that the man Irshad Khan harassed her,” Bharat Dubey, Sub-divisional Police Officer at Shahdol said. “His family pressurised her to adapt to their culture and learn Urdu and Arabic languages.”
The two have been living together since 2018, according to the police.
The incident comes to light in the backdrop of five Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states, including Madhya Pradesh, deciding to introduce laws aimed at preventing inter-faith marriages. Last week, the Madhya Pradesh government doubled the jail term for forced religious conversions for marriage from five years to 10 years in its draft bill against “love jihad”.
“Love jihad” is a conspiracy theory used by right-wing groups who accuse Muslim men of using marriage as a lure to force Hindu women to convert to Islam.
On Sunday, the Uttar Pradesh Police registered its first case under a new ordinance aimed at preventing religious conversion for the purpose of marriage. The case was registered in Bareilly district. The ordinance approved by the Adityanath-led government last week, was promulgated by the state’s Governor Anandiben Patel on Sunday morning.
Violations could result in 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 the 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 another religion, they will need to obtain permission from the district magistrate two months before the wedding.
The decisions taken by BJP-ruled states to draft laws to prevent cases of “love jihad” is despite the fact that in February, the Centre told the Lok Sabha that no such incidents were reported by any of the central agencies.