We find ourselves at a time when love-jihad as a socio-political construct seems to be gaining legal ground as several states ruled by the BJP plan to pass laws to put an end to the so called social malaise. The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet has cleared an ordinance against the forceful inter-faith conversions in the name of love-jihad and many other states seem to be following it in this process.
It was a year ago that the Law Commission of Uttar Pradesh had gone ahead and put forward a report before the chief minister to propose a law to curb forceful conversion in the name of what was seen as a conspiracy of love-jihad or fraudulent compulsive conversion through marriage or promise of love. Following in the steps of Uttar Pradesh, now many BJP ruled states are also contemplating on the imposition of a law to deal with the malaise of love-jihad. It has to be understood that the issue of love-jihad has been something which has always had a special place in Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s mind and is an agenda which is very close to his heart. In many state assembly polls, Yogi Adityanath had time and again spoken against the malaise of interfaith conversions and marriages before it overtly expressed its desire to come up with a law to curb love-jihad as a phenomenon.
In fact his outfit Hindu Yuva Vahini has been quite active in eastern Uttar Pradesh to discourage and work against the alleged evil of love-jihad.Love-jihad as a phenomenon has been on CM Yogi Adityanath’s mind and he has called it a “dangerous trend.”
And he also expressed his desire and intent to control and put an end to this malaise. An important issue that has to be understood here is that love-jihad has always been seen as a socio-political evil by the ruling establishment and it has been actively engaging in populist action to show its disapproval of the phenomenon especially in eastern and central Uttar Pradesh.
But it would not be wrong to say that a particular case led to the finalisation of the bureaucratic mindset over the creation of a special law to curb the problem of love-jihad.
A case which led to the creation of a decision towards the formulation of a law to curb alleged love-jihad, was when a group of parents from Kanpur met senior police officials with a complaint that their daughters were being trapped by Muslim men and are seeking help.
After this, a Special Investigating Team was later created to delve deep into the issue. The team found that many cases were found where the girls refused that they were being forced into marriage but there were some cases that were reported from Lakhimpur Kheri.
What Does the Proposed Law Against Love-Jihad Do?
The law that has been cleared by Uttar Pradesh cabinet has defined punishment in three different heads. People who have been found guilty of conversion done through misinterpretation, force, undue influences, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means in contravention of the law would face jail term of one to five years and a minimum fine of Rs 15,000.
When the converted woman is a minor from the SC and ST community , then people who have been found guilty will face a jail term in 10 years with a minimum fine of Rs 25,000. If the issue is of mass conversion at a mass level then those who are found guilty would have to face jail term of 3-10 years with a minimum fine of Rs 50,000.
The other significant provision of the law which has bee termed as “Uttar Pradesh Vidhi Virudh Dharma Samparivartan Praitishedh Adyadesh 2020(prohibition of unlawful religious conversion), proposes among other things that a marriage will be declared “shunya”(null and void) if the sole intention of the same is to change a girl’s religion.”
The proposed law says that if anyone wants to change their religion, they have to give it in writing to the District Magistrate at least two months in advance. The individual has to approach the District Magistrate and fill an application for conversion in that format.
The person who is undergoing the conversion must prove that it has not been done under fraudulent means.
In case there is a violation which has been found under the provision then the culprit would face a jail term ranging from 6 months to 3 years and a fine of a minimum amount of Rs 10,000.