Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala on Thursday said that he did not agree with the term “love jihad” – a conspiracy theory espoused by right-wing Hindu activists, alleging that Hindu women are forcibly converted by Muslims through marriage.
His remark came as Haryana prepares to table a law against forceful religious conversion. “I don’t agree with this term called ‘love jihad’”, Chautala, who is also the president of BJP ally Jannayak Janata Party, told NDTV in an interview. “We will get a law specifically for [checking] forceful religious conversion. And if that will be introduced, we [the JJP] will definitely support it. We will make a law against forceful conversion to any religion.”
Chautala added that no law can stop a person who converts to another religion willingly. “If someone is willing to get married into another religion, I don’t think any law can stop them,” Chautala added.
Differences have emerged between the BJP and its ally in Haryana because of the farmers’ protest against the agricultural laws. Chautala said in September that he will resign from his position if the Minimum Support Price was threatened because of the new farm laws.
The Haryana government had in November formed a three-member drafting committee to frame a law against forced religious conversion. Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, also ruled by the BJP, have already introduced ordinances that criminalise interfaith marriage under the fig leaf of “love jihad”. The Uttar Pradesh Assembly passed the controversial law on February 24. Several arrests have been made in UP under the law.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had also said last month that his government will soon introduce a law to check forcible conversion. “Such activities being done in the name of love jihad will not be tolerated,” he had said. “The BJP government will bring strict laws against love jihad in the coming days.”
However, the Centre itself told the Lok Sabha in 2019 that no “case of ‘love jihad’ had been reported by any of the central agencies”. Investigations by the National Investigation Agency and the Karnataka Criminal Investigation Department have also not produced any evidence for this alleged conspiracy either. Neither does the National Commission for Women maintain any data about “love jihad”.