No Data, No Evidence: But New Law on ‘Love Jihad’?

After UP & Haryana, Madhya Pradesh has decided to enforce a law against ‘love jihad’ and religious conversions.

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Video Editor: Sandeep Suman

‘YEH ISHQ NAHI AASAN, ITNA HI SAMAJH LIJIYE...
EK AAG KA DARIYA HAI, AUR DOOB KE JANA HAI...'
(Love is not easy... It’s like an ocean of fire and one has to swim across...)

When Jigar Moradabadi wrote these lines, he wouldn't have imagined that in 2020. ‘Love Jihad’ would be the ‘Aag ka Dariya’ (ocean of fire) and ‘doob ke jana’ (swim across) would mean the legal tangle.
First, here are the big questions:

  • Is ‘Love Jihad’ even a phrase in the law of the land?
  • Does the government have any data to authenticate ‘love jihad’?
  • Does love and marriage of adults from separate religions mean ‘love jihad’?
  • Will the government now decide who marries whom?
  • Is it wrong for any adult to marry someone practising another religion or marry after converting to another religion?

In fact, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan said in a press conference in Bhopal that they will not tolerate any 'jihad' in the name of love. If that happens, they will take strict action, and they are looking for legal provisions.

Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said that 'love jihad', that is, marrying after converting religion by force or lure, will be considered null and void under the proposed law in Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Vidheyak 2020. Here's what he said:

“Under this act, we are proposing to grant 5 years of rigorous imprisonment for religious conversions and marriage by lure, fraud or force this offence shall be declared as incognisable and non- bailable.”
Narottam Mishra, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister

Narottam Mishra further added that if someone willingly wants to convert for marriage, they would have to submit an application to the collector one month prior to the marriage.

But Mr Home Minister...

  • What exactly is the meaning of ‘love jihad’?
  • What is the need for a new law when there is already a law on religious conversions in Madhya Pradesh?

Though BJP-ruled states are trying to create a furore on  'love jihad', does the government have any evidence or data on it? No.

In February 2020, a question related to 'love jihad' was raised in the Parliament. In response, MoS Home G Kishan Reddy had said:

“The term ‘love jihad’ is not defined under law. No central agency has reposted any such case.”
G Kishan Reddy, Minister of State for Home

He added that the Article 25 of the Constitution gives freedom to the citizens of the country to practise and propagate any religion, provided that it is done keeping in mind public order, morality, and health.

When Ashoka University professor Aniket Aga sought statistics on 'love jihad' from the NCW through RTI, the NCW said that it has no data on ‘love jJihad’. So far, neither the government nor any government agency or court has confirmed a case of 'love jihad'.

In the Hadiya case from Kerala, in 2018, Supreme Court found no evidence of forced conversion or ‘love jihad’. The apex court overruled the decision of the Kerala High Court that nullified the marriage of Hadiya and Shafeen Jahan. Even in 2009, no evidence of ‘love jihad’ or forced religious conversion was found in the investigation by the police and other agencies in alleged ‘love jihad’ cases from Karnataka and Kerala. 

Before Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had even threatened of ‘Ram Naam Satya Hai’ for alleged 'love jihad'.

“The government is working toward prohibition of ‘love jihad’ and to enforce an effective law on it . It’s a warning to those who hide their actual identities and play with the honour of our sisters and daughters. If they do not stop, then it will be ‘ram naam satya hai’ (final voyage) for them.”
Yogi Adityanath, UP Chief Minister

Here are the big questions:

  • Aren't girls wise enough to not be fooled and take the right decision?
  • Are 'love jihad' allegations not a question on thinking and understanding of women?
  • Is this not an attempt to control a woman's choice to love and marry?

The word ‘Jihad’ in this case, too, has been used to instill fear in the minds of people. 'Jihad' is an Arabic word which means struggle – struggle to become a better person or to find a job amid growing unemployment.

Amid the pandemic, the country needs to struggle in order to get rid of unemployment, betterment of hospitals schools, and colleges, and to spread love and brotherhood.

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