Senior Congress leader and Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday cornered the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the issue of “love jihad” and said that the BJP “manufactured” the term to divide the nation.
“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,” Gehlot said in a series of tweets.
“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,” he added. “It seems a ploy to disrupt communal harmony, fuel social conflict & disregard constitutional provisions like the state not discriminating against citizens on any ground,” he also tweeted.
The tweets from Gehlot condemning the issue comes as states ruled by the BJP, including Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, are contemplating bringing a law against “love jihad”, saying conversion for marriage by force, fraud, lure or instigation will be punishable by a maximum jail term of five years.
Madhya Pradesh has proposed replacing the 1968 Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act with The Madhya Pradesh Dharm Swatantrey (freedom of religion) Bill, 2020. Under this bill, the offence of forceful conversion for marriage shall be cognizable — which means that police can arrest someone without a warrant and start an investigation without the permission of the court — and non-bailable.
If such forced conversion is proved, then the marriage concerned shall be declared null and void and anyone who assisted or was a part of the conversion exercise shall be treated at par with the main accused, officials have said.
“Love Jihad” is a term used by right-wing workers to describe interfaith relationships between a Muslim man and a Hindu woman. In February this year, the government told Parliament that there was no definition of the term and no such cases were reported by agencies.
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