New Delhi: On Saturday, while the BJP’s Karnataka state executive adopted resolutions for the passage and implementation of legislations against inter-faith marriages and cow slaughter in the state, Madhya Pradesh announced that conversion through marriage or by any other fraudulent means will attract prison term of up to ten years and fine of up to Rs 1 lakh under the proposed Madhya Pradesh Religious Freedom Act.
Both states had promised to bring laws to counter ‘love jihad’, a Sangh Parivar-coined phrase to refer to a non-existent conspiracy by Muslims to convert unsuspecting Hindu women by luring them into marriage.
The term has been brought into mainstream discussion and was given legal sanction when on November 28, the governor of the BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh gave assent to the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, against “forcible or fraudulent religious conversions.”
Madhya Pradesh’s ‘love jihad’ law closely follows Uttar Pradesh, under which there have already been arrests made. UP Police has also been stopping interfaith marriages between consenting adults under the ordinance.
A marriage solemnised only for the purpose of converting a person will be held as null and void, an official of the state Public Relations Department told PTI.
“If a person wants to undergo conversion, he or she would need to make a declaration before a district magistrate at least a month in advance under the proposed law.”
Under the proposed law, no person in the state will be able to convert anyone directly or otherwise through marriage or by any other fraudulent means by luring or intimidating anyone, the official said, quoting chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan who sat in a meeting on Saturday to finalise the law.
A person involved in converting another person by misleading, luring, threatening or through marriage will be prosecuted, according to the law.
The sentence could be up to 10 years in the cases of religious conversion of minors, groups, or of those belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
“Blood relatives, including parents of victims of such religious conversion, can file complaints,” the official said. These cases would be investigated by a police officer not below the sub-inspector’s rank, he added.
Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, BJP national general secretary incharge of Karnataka Arun Singh, Union Minister Pralhad Joshi were among those present at a meeting held on Saturday at Belagavi.
Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai has said the state will have a law against ‘love jihad’, and officials have been directed to gather information regarding the ordinance promulgated in Uttar Pradesh in this regard.
Karnataka Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu Chavan has already indicated that the anti-cow slaughter bill will be introduced during the the state legislature session starting from December 7.
(With PTI inputs)