The Madhya Pradesh government on Tuesday announced it will bring in legislation against forced and fraudulent inter-religious marriages with a provision for five-year rigorous punishment for anyone found involved in or promoting them.
“We are going to table the Madhya Pradesh Dharm Swatantrey Bill, 2020, in this winter session against love Jihad which means a woman is forced or lured by a person of other religion for marriage and later she is tortured for conversion,” said state home minister Narottam Mishra said.
Radical Hindu groups have popularised the term “love jihad”, which they use to describe what they believe is an organised conspiracy of Muslim men to trick Hindu women into marriages. In February, junior home minister G Kishan Reddy told Parliament the term “love jihad” is not defined under the laws and no such case has been reported by any central agency.
Mishra said they will punish the people who promote “Love Jihad”. “The forceful conversions and marriages will be a cognisable offence and non-bailable. There will be a provision for declaring such marriages null and void,” said Mishra. He insisted they are not against inter-religion marriages but will prevent only incidents of “Love Jihad”.
Mishra said any person wanting to convert for marriage has to inform district magistrates a month in advance.
Other Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have also promised to bring in similar legislation.
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on November 2 first announced his government’s plan to introduce the bill.