"Even Centre Looking For Laws": Haryana Chief Minister On "Love Jihad"

"Love jihad" is the term used by right-wing groups to target relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women, which, they say, is an elaborate ruse to forcibly convert the women

Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar said states were looking for legal ways to tackle "love jihad" (File)

Chandigarh:

The centre is looking for ways to check "love jihad" cases, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said Sunday, a day after his Uttar Pradesh counterpart, Yogi Adityanath, issued a thinly-veiled threat to "those who... play with our sisters' respect". Mr Khattar said his state was also considering "legal provisions" but would ensure that no innocent person is punished.

"Since the Ballabhgarh case is being linked with "love jihad", the centre, as well as state government, is looking into it, and considering legal provisions so the guilty cannot escape and no innocent person is punished," Mr Khattar said.

Mr Khattar was referring to a 21-year-old woman who was shot dead in broad daylight in Haryana's Faridabad on October 26, by a man who first tried to shove her into his car. Two attackers - Touseef and Rehan - have since been arrested, police have said.

The Haryana Chief Minister's comment comes shortly after his Home Minister, Anil Vij, told news agency ANI: "This "love jihad"... it is necessary to cure it, so we can save young girls. If we have to pass a law to do this, or do something else, we will."

Mr Vij later tweeted that a law against "love jihad" is being considered by the state government.

Haryana's Assembly session is scheduled to start November 5.

"Love jihad" is the term used by right-wing groups to target relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women, which, they say, is an elaborate ruse to forcibly convert the women.

It is also a term the government has disowned. In February, it told parliament the term was not defined under existing laws and no case had been reported by any central agency.

On Saturday Yogi Adityanath cited an Allahabad High Court order on religious conversion for marriage to raise "love jihad" and invoke "Ram naam satya" - a reference to a Hindu funeral chant seen by many as a warning of violence - to threaten "those who... play with our sisters' respect".

"The government will work to curb "love jihad". We will make a law... if you don't mend your ways, 'Ram naam satya' (the chant associated with Hindu funerals) journey will begin," the UP Chief Minister said at an election rally for by-polls to eight seats in Jaunpur district.

Yogi Adityanath, whose administration has been criticised for a spate of horrific crimes against women - including two separate instances of alleged rape against Dalit women in September - also repeated his plans for a "Mission Shakti" to "make sure all sisters and daughters are protected".

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, whose party is allied with the Congress, the RJD and other Left outfits in the Bihar election, meanwhile, hit out at Yogi Adityanath's statement.

"Adults are given the permission to marry under the law, constitution of the country. I don't understand why the Chief Minister (Yogi Adityanath) wants to interfere," Mr Vij told ANI.

The subject has made headlines in recent weeks with Assam BJP kickstarting its campaign for next year's polls by saying girls in the state were "falling prey to love jihad".

In Maharashtra a meeting of the National Commission for Women chief, Rekha Sharma, and the state's governor, was criticised for their discussion on "rise in love jihad cases". The meeting came amid protests over a Tanishq ad that was withdrawn after allegations it promoted "love jihad".

Last month the Allahabad High Court dismissed a petition by a married couple seeking protection from "coercive actions" by relatives looking to interfere in their lives.

The court, which never mentioned the term "love jihad", ruled that because the wife - who had been born into a Muslim family - only converted to Hinduism a month before her marriage - "it clearly reveals... the said conversion had only taken place for the purpose of marriage".

The court also cited its 2014 order, which said: "...conversion of religion to Islam... solely for the purpose of marriage, cannot be said to be a valid conversion".

With input from ANI