A day after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s thinly-veiled threat on “love jihad”, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij said the state’s BJP government may pass a law on the subject. Mr Vij, in a one-line Hindi tweet, said: “A law against “love jihad” is being considered in Haryana”.
“This “love jihad”… it is necessary to cure it, so we can save young girls. If we have to pass a law to do this, we will,” Mr Vij told news agency ANI, adding that even if it was necessary for the government to “do something else” it was ready to do so.
Haryana’s Assembly session is scheduled to start November 5.
On Saturday Yogi Adityanath cited an Allahabad High Court order on religious conversion for marriage to raise “love jihad” and invoke “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”.
“The government will work to curb “love jihad”. We will make a law… if you don’t mend your ways, ‘Ram naam satya‘ (the chant associated with Hindu funerals) journey will begin,” the UP Chief Minister said at an election rally for by-polls to eight seats in Jaunpur district.
Yogi Adityanath, whose administration has been criticised for a spate of horrific crimes against women – including two separate instances of alleged rape against Dalit women in September – also repeated his plans for a “Mission Shakti” to “make sure all sisters and daughters are protected”.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, whose party is allied with the Congress, the RJD and other Left outfits in the Bihar election, meanwhile, hit out at Yogi Adityanath’s statement.
“Adults are given the permission to marry under the law, constitution of the country. I don’t understand why the Chief Minister (Yogi Adityanath) wants to interfere,” Mr Vij told ANI.
“Love jihad” is the term used by right-wing groups to target relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women, which, they say, is an elaborate ruse to forcibly convert the women.
It is also a term the government has disowned. In February, it told parliament the term was not defined under existing laws and no case had been reported by any central agency.
Nevertheless, the subject has made headlines in recent weeks with Assam BJP kickstarting its campaign for next year’s polls by saying girls in the state were “falling prey to love jihad”.
In Maharashtra a meeting of the National Commission for Women chief, Rekha Sharma, and the state’s governor, was criticised for their discussion on “rise in love jihad cases”. The meeting came amid protests over a Tanishq ad that was withdrawn after allegations it promoted “love jihad”.
Last month the Allahabad High Court dismissed a petition by a married couple seeking protection from “coercive actions” by relatives looking to interfere in their lives.
The court, which never mentioned the term “love jihad”, ruled that because the wife – who had been born into a Muslim family – only converted to Hinduism a month before her marriage – “it clearly reveals… the said conversion had only taken place for the purpose of marriage”.
The court also cited its 2014 order, which said: “…conversion of religion to Islam… solely for the purpose of marriage, cannot be said to be a valid conversion”.
With input from ANI