Uttar Pradesh became the first state in the country to act against so-called love jihad, which has been a right-wing call for mobilisation, all these years across the country. The Uttar Pradesh cabinet met this evening and passed the Uttar Pradesh Unlawful Religious Conversion Prohibition Ordinance 2020.
Conversion forced or by fraud will be punishable by imprisonment of five years or a fine of Rs 15,000. If the woman is from a marginalised community, the terms of imprisonment will increase up to 10 years in jail and Rs 25,000 fine. The similar term and a fine of Rs 50,000 will apply for mass conversions.
The Uttar Pradesh Unlawful Religious Conversion Prohibition Ordinance 2020 says religious conversions using falsehood, lure of money or coercion or converting only to marry will be declared a crime. Unlike other laws under which names of the prospective grooms and brides are published a month ahead of the wedding, those who plan to change their religion after marriage will need to inform the district magistrate two months ahead.
All cases field under this UP ordinance will be non-bailable. Further, the person converting or changing their religion will have to prove that the conversion is not just for marrying and was not forced upon them against their wishes. The dogwhistle campaigns have long been that Muslim men lure Hindu women by pretending to be Hindu and then when they fall in love, force them to convert before or after marriage.
In this context, several states have been moving towards formulating a law against alleged love jihad. From Karnataka to Madhya Pradesh to Haryana to Uttarakhand to Himachal Pradesh, almost all BJP-ruled states have been threatening to create such a law.
UP Minister Siddharth Nath Singh said framing a law was necessary for the state since the government was looking at some 100 cases where conversion was forced.