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What is the “love jihad” law in Uttar Pradesh, why is it being implemented now, and what does the proposed law “love jihad” say?

In the latest case involving ‘love jihad,’ the police stopped a wedding ceremony and took away the to – be- married couple after a phone call claiming that a Muslim man was marrying a Hindu woman after converting her. The case happened in Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh; however, after detaining the couple for a day, they were let off since it was found that both were of the same religion – Muslim.

However, the groom, 39-year-old Haider Ali, has alleged that while in custody, he was brutally assaulted by the police personnel; they beat him up with a leather belt and tortured him for hours while in custody in the Kasya Police Station. 

They were let off only after the bride’s brother arrived at the police station and confirmed that the couple was from the same religion and not minors.

The police, in the meantime, denied all allegations regarding the beating and the torturing of the groom. The story continues from hereon, and it was much later and only after verification by a family member – the bride’s brother – was the couple let off. 

Recounting their horrifying tale, it indeed sends cheers up the spine, knowing that this is what has come to in our country.

There has been an increasing number of such cases reported from all over Uttar Pradesh, and it seems that the same could also become a usual trend in other states.

What is the ‘love jihad’ law?

The issue of “love jihad” has been an immediate concern for UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath even before he came to power. While there was no mention of “love jihad” by the Bharatiya Janata Party in its poll agenda in previous state assembly elections, Adityanath, on the contrary, has been extremely vocal about the same even when he was Gorakhpur MP. 

The entire idea of “love jihad” is forceful inter – faith conversions. Adityanath’s outfit – Hindu Yuva Vahini – had actively worked to check the alleged religious conversions in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Draft Ordinance – “Love Jihad” – cleared.

The Uttar Pradesh government cleared a draft ordinance against forceful inter – faith conversions – nicknamed as “love jihad,” and the clearance of the same indicates that the other states will follow suit. 

However, since the issue is close to Yogi Adityanath’s heart, it is understood that the law will be implemented “strongly” in Uttar Pradesh as compared to other states. 

A report submitted by the Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission to the CM a year ago had recommended such a law in the state due to increasing cases of forced religious conversions or conversions through fraudulent ways. 

While the other states are considering bringing a similar law in their respective states, the Uttar Pradesh government is ready to implement the law vigorously in the state.

Why is the law being implemented in Uttar Pradesh Now?

The reason for the law is because in the past several months, cases of “love jihad” have been reported from different parts of the state, particularly from eastern and central Uttar Pradesh. 

A case that was reported and triggered the decision to implement “love jihad” happened in a particular locality in Kanpur, wherein a group of parents had met a senior police official and alleged that Muslim men are trapping their daughters, and they are now seeking the parents help to free themselves. 

Following the complaint, a special investigative team was formed under the orders of the CM to look into the allegations. 

However, as it turned out in many cases, the girls refused to concede that they had been lured into marriage. 

Such incidents were also reported from some other districts in UP.

What does the proposed law “love jihad” say?

According to the proposed law, the law cleared by the Uttar Pradesh cabinet defines punishment and fine under three different heads, those found of conversion done through “misinterpretation, force, undue influence, allurement, coercion, or by any fraudulent means.” 

As per the law, concerning any of the above, one could face a jail term of one – five years and a minimum fine of Rs 15,000.

If such conversion happens, then in the case of a minor girl, women belonging to the Scheduled Caste or Schedule Tribe, in such cases those found guilty of the same would have to face a jail term from three to ten years, with a minimum fine of Rs 25,000.

If such a conversion is found to be happening at a mass level, then, in that case, those found guilty would face a jail term from three to ten years and a minimum fine of Rs. 50,000.

In another significant provision, “Uttar Pradesh Vidhi Virudh Dharma Samparivartan Pratishedh Adyadesh 2020” (prohibition of unlawful religious conversion), a proposed law, under which a marriage will be declared “shunya,” i.e., Null and Void if the “sole intention” of the same is to “change a girls religion.”

Who is allowed to convert, and how can they do it under the proposed law?

If anyone wants to convert to another religion, they would have to give it in writing to the District Magistrate at least two months in advance under the proposed law. 

The government is looking to prepare the application format, and any such individual is required to fill the application for conversion in the format given and submit the same.

According to the new law, it is the responsibility of the person going for religious conversion to submit proof that the same is not happening forcefully and through any fraudulent means.

If any violation is found under this provision, one can face a jail term from 6 months to 3 years and a minimum fine of 10,000.

 

What has happened so far?

Since the Uttar Pradesh government passed the ordinance, the state police have filed five cases of “forceful conversion for marriage in the first ten days.”

However, in five of the cases filed, three turned out to have carried before the law’s promulgation, which means that it is unconstitutional to prosecute them under the law.

Governor Anandiben Patel had, on 28 November, signed the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, hence according to legal experts, unless a complaint explicitly mentions that the incident took place after the notification of the new law, the state police cannot apply the law.

Two of the alleged cases were registered by the UP police in Bareilly, and one each in Sitapur, Moradabad, and Mau. 

However, in all of the cases except the one in Mau cannot be covered under the law as they happened before the law’s promulgation; only the case in Mau is likely to be covered under the ordinance; in which fourteen persons have been arrested for allegedly abducting a 27 – year old woman on the eve of her wedding on 30 November. 

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