Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday issued a warning against “love jihad” – a pejorative term coined by the right-wing groups to push the conspiracy theory that Muslim men charm Hindu women into marrying them with the sole purpose of converting their brides to Islam.
“Government belongs to everyone, all religions and castes,” Chouhan said, according to ANI. “There is no discrimination but if someone tries to do anything disgusting with our daughters, then I’ll break you. If someone plots religious conversion or does anything like ‘love jihad’, you will be destroyed.”
Chouhan’s comments came days after 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”. The Dharm Swatantrya (Religious Freedom) Bill, 2020, is likely to be tabled in the state Assembly during the session beginning from December 28.
‘Love jihad’ row
Madhya Pradesh is one of the many Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states that have spoken out against “love jihad”. The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet has already cleared an ordinance to check cases of “love jihad”. The ordinance provides for a jail term of 1 to 5 years with a penalty of Rs 15,000 for forceful religious conversion. For converting minors and women of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes community, the punishment goes up to 10 years in jail.
Other Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states like Karnataka and Haryana have also 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”. Meanwhile, the Haryana government on November 26 formed a three-member drafting committee to frame a law for the same.
In February, the Centre told the Lok Sabha that no “case of ‘love jihad’ has been reported by any of the central agencies”. Investigations by the National Investigation Agency, the Karnataka Criminal Investigation Department, the Uttar Pradesh Special Investigation Team and others have turned up no evidence for this alleged conspiracy. The National Commission for Women maintains no data about “love jihad” too.