Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday launched a strong attack on plans by BJP-ruled states to introduce laws to combat what they call ‘love jihad’, or marriages aimed at religious conversion.
Gehlot 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.”
Emphasising that marriage is a “personal decision”, Gehlot alleged the BJP governments’ attempts to bring love jihad laws would put consenting adults at the “mercy of state power”. Gehlot tweeted, “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.”
Gehlot also argued such laws against love jihad would disregard constitutional provisions. Gehlot tweeted, “It seems a ploy to disrupt communal harmony, fuel social conflict & disregard constitutional provisions like the state not discriminating against citizens on any ground.”
Love jihad laws
On November 17, the Madhya Pradesh government announced it would introduce the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill that prescribed five years’ imprisonment to those engaging in love jihad.
On Friday, the Uttar Pradesh government’s home department sent a proposal for a law against love jihad to its department of law. Uttar Pradesh Law Minister Brajesh Pathak alleged instances of love jihad were affecting communal harmony in the state and promised a draft of the proposed law would be in the public domain soon.
Earlier this week, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij announced the state government would enact a strict law to deter love jihad. Vij said “with the enactment of this law, strict action will be taken against any person who is found indulging in religious conversion by pressuring, tempting someone or is involved in any kind of conspiracy or tries to do so in the name of love”.
Vij alleged many cases of love jihad were surfacing. He added Haryana would seek information from Himachal Pradesh, which last year passed a bill against conversion by force, inducement or through marriages solemnised for the “sole purpose” of adopting a new religion.