The Madhya Pradesh government is prepping up a proposal to curb the alleged practice of love jihad in the state. It could attract a jail term of at least five years. According to Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra, the state government was aiming at making such crimes cognizable and non-bailable offences. The bill would be introduced in the next assembly session.
"Making preparations to introduce Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2020, in assembly. It will provide for five years of rigorous imprisonment. We are also proposing that such crimes be declared a cognizable and non-bailable offence," Mishra told reporters on Tuesday.
He said there would be a provision to declare marriages taking place forcefully, out of fraud or by tempting someone, for religious conversion, null and void. Those assisting in committing this crime will also be considered a party to the crime, Mishra said.
A person who has been converted, their parents or siblings will have to mandatorily file a complaint for action, he said. The religious leader who is converting the person will have to inform District Magistrate one month in advance, the minister said.
Earlier, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had said that there will be no jihad in the name of love and that whoever does such an act will be set right. Legal arrangements will be made for this, Chouhan had said.
"Love jihad" is term used by right-wing activists to refer to the alleged campaign of Muslims forcing Hindu girls to convert in the guise of love.
Recently, Haryana government too said it was considering a law against love jihad and sought information from Himachal Pradesh, which had passed a bill on the issue. The Himachal Pradesha assembly had last year passed a bill against conversion by force, inducement or through marriages solemnised for the "sole purpose" of adopting a new religion.
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa also said that his government will take strong measures to put an end to religious conversion in the name of love jihad. Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath echoed similar concerns and said his government would soon come out with a law against the practice.