A case has been filed against a man under Madhya Pradesh’s new anti ‘love-jihad’ law. According to the authorities, this is the first case that is registered under the anti-conversion law. The man was arrested for sexually abusing a 22-year-old girl and pressurising her into changing her religion in the Barwani district of Madhya Pradesh.
Police in Barwani district arrested a 25-year-old man after a 22-year-old girl accused him of physically assaulting her due to her refusal to marry him and convert her religion to Islam. The Barwani station in-charge Rajesh Yadav told a news agency that on the basis of a written complaint by the 22-year-old woman, the man was arrested on charges of rape and under the new Freedom of Religion ordinance.
Yadav said, “Accused had introduced himself to her as Sunny about four years back. As soon as she came to know that he was married and a Muslim, she began to maintain a distance but he allegedly pressurised her for marriage and conversion.”
The girl after filing her complaint spoke to reporters and said that she lodged the complaint as she considers the case to be of love-jihad. The woman said, “The man is a Muslim and got into a relationship with me by posing as a Hindu. He beat me up. He physically exploited me for four years.” The girl also added that when she started keeping a distance from him, the man continued to pressurise her for religious conversion and to marry him.
The Barwani station in-charge Yadav also said that the case falls under the jurisdiction of the Palsdud police station and the case has been moved for further action.
The Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance
On December 29, 2020, a special cabinet meeting was called in Madhya Pradesh where the ordinance on the bill against religious conversion was given a nod. The Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance penalises all those religious conversions that are made through fraudulent means like those for the sake of marriage.
Offenses that come under the ordinance are cognizable and non-bailable in nature. The ordinance is considered to be a replacement of the Religious Freedom Act of 1968 and prohibits religious conversion or efforts of a similar nature by misrepresentation, force, marriage, coercion, or any other fraudulent means.
In the ordinance, there is a provision of three to ten years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 50,000 (in cases of marriage carried out by concealing the religion. In cases that involve the religious conversion of individuals that belong to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minors, the accused could face imprisonment of two to 10 years and Rs. 50,000 fine.
Earlier last year, the Uttar Pradesh government also passed a similar ordinance in October. The ordinance, also known as ‘Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance of 2020’ is infamously labelled as the “love-jihad” law. “Love-jihad” is a right-wing idea that says that Muslim men lure Hindu women into relationships, and later force them into converting to the Muslim religion. As of December, at least 51 people have been arrested in Uttar Pradesh under this law.