Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today said the state will have a fresh law against "love jihad" if need be, citing the grisly murder of Shraddha Walkar by her boyfriend Aftaab Poonawala in Delhi that has shocked the nation. Speaking at an event meant to mark the martyrdom anniversary of tribal icon Tantiya Bhil, Mr Chouhan said the state will not allow anyone to "delude its daughters and chop them up into 35 pieces".
"Several people marry tribal women to purchase land in their names. This is not love. It is love jihad, I will not allow this game of 'love jihad' to continue in the state," Mr Chouhan said.
The term love-jihad has been coined by the right-wing to describe many inter-faith relationships. A section of the right wing contends that Muslim men deliberately lure Hindu women into relationships to ensure their religious conversion.
"Someone cheats our daughters in the name of love, marries them, and cuts them into 35 pieces. Such acts will not be allowed in Madhya Pradesh, The state government will bring stringent laws to prevent such acts. The land of tribals will be protected at all costs, These cheats have devised many such ways to grab tribal lands. They marry tribal women only to fight elections for the post of sarpanch. The state will make laws to curb this," he added.
Mr Chouhan is the second BJP Chief Minister to call for a strong law against "love jihad", citing the murder of Shraddha Walkar.
In a recent interview to NDTV, Mr Chouhan's Assam counterpart, Himanta Biswa Sarma, had said "love jihad" is a "reality" and the country needs a "strict law" against it.
"Love jihad is a reality from a national point of view," Mr Sarma had said. "There is evidence of love jihad (in the Walkar case)... even in Aaftab's polygraph test, it is said that he revealed that his actions will take him to jannat (heaven). There are reports on it," he had told NDTV.
BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh already has an anti-conversion law, dubbed the "anti-love jihad law".
In 2021, the state government enacted a law which penalises religious conversions through fraudulent means. It provides for jail terms of up to 10 years and fines up to Rs 1 lakh.
Mr Chouhan had declared that if someone "plots religious conversion or does anything like 'love jihad', you will be destroyed".
In February 2020, the Union Home Ministry had told parliament that the term "love jihad" is not defined under existing laws and no case has been reported by any Central agency -- officially distancing itself from term.
Asked about the matter, Himanta Biswa Sarma had said there is an effort now to find a legal definition for the term, "because we are convinced that love jihad exists even when you conduct a polygraph test".