Uttar Pradesh is one of several BJP-ruled states that have made new laws to stop forcible religious conversions and what the right wing calls “love jihad” — which has generated huge controversy.
Union Minister Rajnath Singh has said that he personally does not support conversion for marriage and questioned why it should be required. The minister — a parliamentarian from Lucknow — was questioned about the alleged misuse of the anti-conversion law enacted by the Uttar Pradesh government. Uttar Pradesh is one of several BJP-ruled states that have made new laws to stop forcible religious conversions and what the right wing calls “love jihad” — which has generated huge controversy.
“I want to ask why there should be a conversion. The practice of mass conversions should stop,” Mr Singh has told ANI in an exclusive interview.
“As far as I know, in the Muslim religion, one cannot marry someone from another religion. I personally do not approve of conversion for marriage,” he added.
The minister said there is a difference between “natural marriage” and forcible religious conversion for marriage.
“In many cases, you may have seen that the religious conversion is being done forcefully and sometimes it is done under greed. Natural marriage and forceful conversion for marriage has a big difference and I think governments which made these laws have considered all these things,” Mr Singh said.
The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, prohibits any conversion by “misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement, or by any fraudulent means or by marriage.”
The law significantly also says that marriages that are done “for the sole purpose of unlawful conversion or vice versa” would not be allowed.Four former judges have criticised the law, calling it unconstitutional. One of the judges termed “love jihad” a “creation of religious extremists for the purpose of dividing people.”
Former Delhi High Court judge and former chairman of the National Law Commission, Justice AP Shah, said has told NDTV that several provisions of the new law violates the fundamental right to practice religion, “striking at the very root of right to life and liberty guaranteed under the constitution”.
This ordinance, he said, was “capable of great public mischief”.
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi has targetted the BJP over the laws against forcible conversions, including those for the sake of marriage, claiming they violate the fundamental rights granted by the Constitution.
Claiming the laws violate Articles 14, 21 and 25 of the Constitution related to right to equality, right to life and personal liberty and right to freedom of religion, he said the BJP is “creating an atmosphere of hate for the Muslim community”.