The issue of "love jihad" came up at a meeting between Rekha Sharma, the chief of the National Commission of Women and Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Tuesday in the backdrop of the recent row over a Tanishq advertisement. The Commission said Ms Sharma had highlighted the "rise" in ''love jihad'' cases in the state, reported news agency Press Trust of India.
"Madam Chairperson raised the issue of rise in love jihad cases in Maharashtra. She highlighted a distinction between consensual inter-faith marriages and love jihad and said that the latter required attention," a statement from the Commission read, reported PTI.
Later in the day, the Commission tweeted: "Our Chairperson @sharmarekha met with Bhagat Singh Koshyari, His Excellency, Governor of Maharashtra and discussed issues related to #womensafety in the state including defunct One Stop Centres, molestation and rape of women patients at #COVID centres and rise in love jihad cases".
"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.
In February, the government told parliament that the term is not defined under existing laws and no case has been reported by any Central agency -- officially distancing itself from term used by right wing groups in several cases of inter-faith marriages.
The best known among these cases was the instance of Hadiya, a Kerala woman whose marriage to a Muslim man was upheld by the Supreme Court in March 2018 after a series of twists and turns.
Quoting Article 25 of the Constitution, then Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said it provided the freedom to profess, practice and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health.
"The term 'Love Jihad' is not defined under the extant laws. No such case of 'Love Jihad' has been reported by any of the central agencies," the minister had said in a reply to a written question in the Lok Sabha.
Even so, popular jewellery brand Tanishq had to withdraw an advertisement last week amid allegations of promoting "love jihad" and intense trolling and boycott calls on social media.
The advertisement, featuring an interfaith baby shower, got support from a few who rejected the hate messages.