The Haryana government will soon pass a “strict law to control love jihad”, the state’s Home Minister, Anil Vij, said, adding that a committee would shortly be constituted to come up with a draft legislation. He also said he had already met with senior ministry officials and is scheduled to speak to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on this matter.
Mr Vij’s comments comes hours after his Madhya Pradesh counterpart said his government was planning a similar law and those found guilty could face up to five years of rigorous imprisonment. The Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh governments have also made similar statements, as has Assam.
“With the enactment of this law strict action will be taken against any person found guilty of religious conversion by pressuring or tempting someone, or is involved in any kind of conspiracy, to convert religions in the name of love,” Mr Vij told reporters on Tuesday.
He said that he had also reached out to Himachal Pradesh, which passed the law last year.
In response to a question on the need for the law, Mr Vij referred to the killing of a 21-year-old woman in Haryana’s Faridabad on October 26, by a man who first tried to shove her into his car.
“Love jihad” is a pejorative used by right-wing groups to target relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women, which, they say, is a ruse to forcibly convert the women.
It is a term not recognised by the centre. In February, the Union Home Ministry told parliament that “love Jihad is not defined in law” and no such case had been reported by central agencies.
That, however, has not stopped a number of BJP-ruled states from stoking fears and talking up what many feel is an unproven right-wing conspiracy theory.
Mr Khattar, on November 1, said the centre is also looking for ways to check “love jihad” cases.
Earlier this month Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said his government would “take stern measures”. His Home Minister proclaimed “love jihad” a “social evil”.
Last month Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the BJP’s troubleshooter in the northeast, said the party would launch a campaign against “love jihad” cases ahead of state elections due next year.
The shrillest voice in this campaign, though, has been that of Uttar Pradesh’s Yogi Adityanath.
Ahead of Assembly bypolls on November 3, he cited an Allahabad High Court order on religious conversion for marriage and invoked “Ram naam satya” – a reference to a Hindu funeral chant seen by many as a warning of violence – to threaten “those who… play with our sisters’ respect”.
But in UP, the one BJP state in which police are probing so-called “love jihad”, the cases are rapidly coming undone, an NDTV investigation has found.