Wednesday Nov 25, 2020
The Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) government in India's Uttar Pradesh state has approved a stringent law to deal with religious conversions for the sake of marriage, Indian media reported on Wednesday.
The approval for the ordinance was given at a state cabinet meeting chaired by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath - who had promised a fight against "Love Jihad" in his election campaign.
The term "love jihad", unrecognised by the Indian legal system, was coined to refer to a non-existent system under which Hindu women were 'forcibly' converted to marry Muslim men.
States with the BJP government such as UP, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have revealed plans to enact laws to counter "love jihad" in recent weeks.
Under the new law, punishments include jail term of between one to five years and fine worth INR15,000. In case a woman is a minor or belongs to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, the imprisonment will range from three to 10 years and fine increases to INRA25,000.
“In the case of mass conversions, the punishment is from three years to 10 years and a fine of INR50,000 on the organisations which indulge in it,” the minister told reporters.
If an individual wants to convert to any other religion before marriage, they will need to take permission from a district magistrate two months before the wedding date. If anyone wants to change religion after marriage, then he or she “can do so.”
"In addition to its openly communal nature, the law is also harmful to women and takes no account of their freewill," writes The Wire.
This article originally appeared in The Wire.