Law against ‘Love-Jihad in Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra Tuesday said the “love jihad” bill will soon be introduced in the state assembly and it includes five years rigorous imprisonment for violators. The charge will be cognizable and non-bailable. There will be provision to declare marriages taking place forcefully, out of fraud or by tempting someone, for religious conversion, null and void. Those assisting in committing this crime will also be considered a party to the crime. Other provisions of the Bill include notifying the district collector a month in advance before formalising an inter-faith marriage.
India has a long tradition of arranged marriages, wherein the bride and groom do not self-select their partners. Through the 2000s and 2010s, the country witnessed a rise in love marriages, although tensions continue around interfaith marriages, along with other traditionally discouraged unions.  In recent years, Uttar Pradesh saw the proposal of an amendment to remove the requirement to declare religion from the marriage law in hopes of encouraging those who were hiding their interfaith marriage due to social norms to register.
Love Jihad is an alleged activity wherein Muslim youth utilize such emotional appeals, using charm to entice girls into conversion by feigning love – in some reports, as an organized, funded behaviour.  Love Jihad is an Islamophobic conspiracy theory alleging that Muslim men target women belonging to non-Muslim communities for conversion to Islam by feigning love.
The movement has also been described by some anti-feminist due to paternalistic attitudes towards women's choice in marriage and by allegedly using women's rights as a cover for Hindu nationalism.
The concept rose to national attention in India in 2009 with alleged conversions first in Kerala and subsequently, in Karnataka. The NIA was asked to probe whether a Kerala woman, Hadiya was forcibly converted by her husband before marriage. In 2018, the Supreme Court set aside a trial court order the annulled the marriage between Hadiya and her husband Shefin Jahan.
The Oxford Handbook of Religious Conversion notes that the effectiveness of emotional appeals in converting people from one faith to another is well known and often exploited by religious leaders. Religious groups have utilized techniques like love bombing and Flirty Fishing to interest potential recruits.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had earlier hinted at bringing in new legislation against “love jihad”, a term coined by rightwing outfits opposing the inter-faith marriage. However, the right to marry a person of one’s choice is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. Chief Minister Chouhan said clearly said that “Jihad will not be permitted in the name of love at any cost in the state. And necessary legal provisions will be made against love jihad.”The BJP governments in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are also contemplating legal provisions against “love jihad

- prabhakar purandare

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