Janata Dal (United) leader KC Tyagi, an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, on Sunday opposed the need for legislations that target interfaith marriages, saying that such laws would only create social hatred and polarise the society, reported PTI.

“An atmosphere of hatred and division is being created in the society in the name of ‘love jihad’,” Tyagi told reporters after the national executive meeting of the JD(U) in Patna. “Provisions of the Constitution and Criminal Code of Procedure give freedom to two adults to choose life partners of their choice irrespective of one’s religion, caste or region.”

Tyagi’s comments came a day after the Madhya Pradesh government became the latest state to approve a bill aimed to prevent forceful conversions for interfaith marriages. The legislation is referred to as “love jihad” law. “Love jihad” is a term used by Hindu right-wing groups to refer to an unproven conspiracy that Muslims are luring Hindu women into marrying them with the sole purpose of converting their brides to Islam.

The bill includes a maximum punishment of up to 10 years in jail and up to Rs 1,00,000 in fine, with the burden of proof virtually falling on the accused. Forced conversion of a minor, woman or a person from Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, would draw a minimum jail term of two to 10 years with a minimum penalty of Rs 50,000.

Last month, a similar law was passed by the Adityanath-led government of Uttar Pradesh, and his administration has arrested a spate of Muslim men in recent days. Both states are governed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

Several other BJP-ruled states are also contemplating provisions to curb interfaith marriages. 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.

However, successive investigations have failed to find any evidence that such conspiracy exists and the central government had in February told the Lok Sabha that no “case of ‘love jihad’ has been reported by any of the central agencies”. Critics say the laws are part of an anti-Muslim agenda by Modi’s party.

Also read:

  1. UP’s ‘love jihad’ law follows ideology of khap panchayat, must be struck down, says Justice AP Shah
  2. ‘Love jihad’: 14 members of Muslim man’s family arrested under anti-conversion law in Uttar Pradesh