Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath today cited an Allahabad High Court order on religious conversion for marriage to raise the issue of "love jihad", and invoke "Ram naam satya" - a Hindu funeral chant - to issue a thinly-veiled threat to "those who... play with our sisters' respect".
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".
"Allahabad High Court has said religious conversion isn't necessary for marriage. The government will work to curb "love jihad". We will make a law. I warn those who conceal their identity and play with our sisters' respect," Yogi Adityanath said at a rally in Jaunpur for by-polls to eight Assembly seats.
"If you don't mend your ways, 'Ram naam satya' (the chant associated with Hindu funerals) journey will begin," he said, adding that his government would "make sure sisters, daughters are protected. We will go to every extent to make this operation a success".
"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 that the government has disowned. In February, the government told parliament the term was not defined under existing laws and no case had been reported by any central agency.
Nevertheless, 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 The meeting came amid protests over a recent Tanishq ad that was withdrawn after allegations it promoted "love jihad".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".