New Delhi: Several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled states have asserted that they would soon bring in a stringent legislation against ‘love jihad‘ cases. Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had said earlier this month that his government will take strong steps to stop religious conversion in the name of “love jihad.” Also Read - Tina Dabi, Athar Khan File For Divorce in Jaipur's Family Court | How The IAS Couple Had The Perfect Love Story

Similarly, Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s government in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Aditynath also asserted that they will bring in legislation to prevent inter-faith marriages in their states.

What is love jihad? 

Love jihad’ is a term coined by some Hindu fringe groups for alleged efforts to get non-Muslim girls to convert to Islam through affairs and marriages.

On February 4 this year, the Union Home Ministry had clarified that the term ‘love jihad’ is not defined under the existing laws and no such case has been reported so far.

In a reply in Lok Sabha to Congress MP Behanan Benny’s question as to whether any central agency has reported any case of love jihad from Kerala in the past two years, the Home Ministry said, “The term ‘love jihad’ is not defined under the extant laws. No such case has been reported by any of the central agencies.”

“However, two cases from Kerala involving inter-faith marriages have been investigated by the National Investigation Agency,” the ministry added.

What do the BJP-ruled states say?

Karnataka: Earlier this month, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had announced that the state has formulated a strict law against ‘love jihad‘.

Addressing a party executive committee meeting in Mangaluru, the chief minister had said, “We have taken conversion in the name of ‘love jihad’ seriously and formulated a strict law. I have already discussed with the authorities the law against those who engage in ‘love jihad’.”

Madhya Pradesh: MP government has said that the state government will bring a bill against ‘love jihad’ in the next Assembly session that will have the provision of five years of rigorous imprisonment.

“One word ‘ Love Jihad’ is doing rounds. We are making preparations to introduce the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2020 in Assembly. It will have provision for five years of rigorous imprisonment against those involved in forceful religious conversion and marriage by lure or fraud,” state Home Minister Narottam Mishra had said.

“We are also proposing that such crimes be declared a cognisable and non-bailable offence. There will be provision to declare marriages taking place forcefully, out of fraud or by tempting someone, for religious conversion, null and void,” he added.

Uttar Pradesh:  The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has also decided to bring in stringent legislation against ‘love jihad‘.
The Home Department has sent a proposal to the Department of Law in this regard. The Law Department will work out the legal modalities after which the government is likely to issue an ordinance in this regard.

Bihar: Union minister Girriaj Singh also favoured enactment of legislation in Bihar against love jihad, which, he claimed, has become a menace in the country. The firebrand BJP leader also urged the Nitish Kumar government to realize that issues like love jihad and population control had nothing to do with sampradayikta (communalism) but are about samajik samrasta (social harmony).

“Love jihad has come to be realized as a menace in all states across the country – not just among Hindus but among all non-Muslims. In Kerala where Christians have a large population, members of the community have raised concern over this phenomenon”, Singh told reporters.

Echoing similar remarks, Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot said that it is a term manufactured by the BJP to divide the nation.

“Marriage is a matter of personal liberty and bringing a law to curb it is completely unconstitutional,” he tweeted.

“Love Jihad is a word manufactured by BJP to divide the Nation & disturb communal harmony. Marriage is a matter of personal liberty, bringing a law to curb it is completely unconstitutional & it will not stand in any court of law. Jihad has no place in Love”, he tweeted.

In the second tweet, he said, “They are creating an environment in the nation where consenting adults would be at the mercy of state power. Marriage is a personal decision & they are putting curbs on it, which is like snatching away personal liberty.”

He added, “It seems a ploy to disrupt communal harmony, fuel social conflict & disregard constitutional provisions like the state not discriminating against citizens on any ground.