Why laws punishing fraud marriages solely to convert need to be stronger, wider
Mahatma Gandhi’s views on conversion are well known. “If I had power and could legislate, the first thing I would ban is conversions,” he had famously said
'Love jihad' is a bad name for a worse malaise. The phrase unnecessarily brings two antithetical, if not downright oxymoronic, ideas together. It pits the accused automatically as a victim in the eyes of most liberals.
Yet, the practice exists widely if you expand it in dull and serious semantics: conversion in the name of interfaith marriage by force or deceit.
On the pretext of love.
But is it jihad?
In most cases, there is no attempt to radicalise the converted young woman and use her in terrorism.
But if you consider it as a facet of Islamist holy war to expand the faith and its centuries-old pattern of skewing demographics, yes it is jihad.
Some pundits have argued that the cases are too few to merit new laws that states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have brought about. The same pundits get extremely jittery about cow vigilante killings, which are minuscule in proportion of total population.
We don’t have any data on coercive and deceitful conversion in the name of interfaith marriages as Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy has admitted, because the offence was not clearly defined so far. Reddy’s statement was promptly twisted to say 'love jihad' does not exist. But with states beginning to legislate against it, complaints and arrests have started. That data will be hard to ignore.
Two days before Diwali, a 14-year-old Hindu girl from Hamidpur in Bengal was rescued from her much older, married abductor Sohidul Rehman. After kidnapping her, Rehman forced her to read ayaats from the Quran, then the nikahnama in the presence of another person, and sexually assaulted the minor.
On 21 November, another 14-year-old from Aligarh was rescued near Greater Noida when abductor Habib was trying to flee with her in a bus. Last week, an Aligarh man was roughed up by relatives of a Hindu woman after he posed as a Hindu man and admittedly deceived her into a relationship.
Such instances abound, often involving far more cruelty, rape, and even murder in some cases when the woman resisted conversion or confronted the man after finding out that she was deceived.
In Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun, Asif shot her wife Neha in September after she found out his real identity. He had introduced himself as Rajkumar and got married hiding his religion.
In October, the viral video of Haryana’s Nikita Tomar being publicly shot by a man named Tausif triggered massive nationwide outrage. Nikita had reportedly refused to give in to Tausif’s intimidation to convert and marry him.
Whether liberals like to hear it or not, centuries of Islamic demographic war on India is a reality. The civilisation has lost Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to it. And one of the primary and most painful tool of that takeover has been rape, forced marriages and conversion of non-Muslims on an industrial scale in these three nations. It also happens in India, and as the face-paint of fake secularism slowly melts, sections of our media have started reporting on it.
Laws against such duplicitous conversions on the pretext of marriage and unspeakable exploitation of women were long overdue. Mahatma Gandhi’s views on conversion are well known. “If I had power and could legislate, the first thing I would ban is conversions,” he had famously said.
In the 1977 Reverend Stanislaus versus State of Madhya Pradesh case, a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court had ruled that Freedom of Religion gives one the right to propagate but not the right to convert.
“We have no doubt that it is in this sense that the word 'propagate' has been used in Article 25(1), for what the Article grants is not the right to convert another person to one's own religion, but to transmit or spread one's religion by an exposition of its tenets,” the bench observed.
So, when the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet on 24 November cleared the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020, it addressed a specific and real horror within the larger issue of conversions. A person can be jailed for up to five years if convicted for forcible or deceitful conversions for marriage. It is now a non-bailable offence.
Madhya Pradesh is preparing an even stricter law. A marriage carried out by force or fraud will attract up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to Rs one lakh. Such a marriage, solemnised only for the purpose of converting a person, will be held null and void. Karnataka is preparing a similar legislation.
Quibbling over the semantics of 'love jihad' – a term used initially by both the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council and Hindu groups for such activity on the southern coast – cannot wish away a very real tool of religious aggression and takeover. A Uniform Civil Code should provide an overarching umbrella against it in the future.
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