Updated: February 2, 2021 10:27:34 pm
The government has no intention as of now to bring in a central law against religious conversions or interfaith marriages, Lok Sabha was told on Tuesday.
The government was asked whether it “intends to propose a central anti-conversion law to curb interfaith marriages”. In a written reply, Minister of State (Home) G Kishan Reddy said, “No, sir.”
Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have recently brought in laws that make marriages for the sole purpose of religious conversion illegal. Himachal Pradesh already has such a law in place. In all three states, the punishment for forced conversion through marriage — which the Sangh Parivar calls “love jihad” — is one to five years of imprisonment.
On questions such as whether the government was of the view that interfaith marriages were happening due to forceful conversions and whether it had sufficient evidence to prove the same, MoS Reddy said, “‘Public Order’ and ‘Police’ are State subjects as per the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India. Hence, prevention, detection, registration, investigation and prosecution of offences related to religious conversions are primarily the concerns of the State Governments/Union Territory (UT) Administrations. Action is taken as per existing laws by the law enforcing agencies whenever instances of violation come to notice.”
The “love jihad” laws enacted by the states have created much controversy over their potential for misuse. There have also been widespread reports of police harassing interfaith couples merely on complaints. Multiple cases have been registered over the past couple of months in UP and MP where Muslim men have been incarcerated for marrying Hindu women.
Organisations affiliated to the Hindutva ideology have been for years claiming that a project called Love Jihad exists where Muslim men lure Hindu women into marriage and then convert them.
In a recent interview with The Indian Express, RSS general secretary Suresh Bhayyaji Joshi said, “Is it ok to lure someone and then convert them? Today it is happening in many states. First declare yourself as a Hindu, start a relationship and then reveal your true identity while marrying. There is no objection to people falling in love and marrying. But there is a difference between love marriage and love jihad. On one side there is love and consensus, on other side there is allurement. So if something is being done through falsehood, there should be a law to deal with it. Now how tough the law should be and who should be protected, only experts can tell.”
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