India

UP Clears Order To Check Forced Conversions Amid "Love Jihad" Row

UP Clears Order To Check Forced Conversions Amid
Lucknow:

Amid furious nationwide debate over "love jihad" - the right-wing conspiracy theory about relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women - the Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday evening passed an ordinance to check forced religious conversions. The ordinance comes less than a month after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath cited an Allahabad High Court order to invoke "Ram naam satya" - a Hindu funeral chant - to issue a thinly-veiled threat to "those who... play with our sisters' respect".

It also comes hours after the High Court cancelled a case filed against a Muslim man by the parents of his wife, who converted to Islam last year to marry him. "Interference in a personal relationship would constitute a serious encroachment into the right to freedom of choice of the two individuals," the court observed in a significant verdict.

"We do not see Priyanka Kharwar and Salamat Ansari as Hindu and Muslim, rather as two grown-up individuals who - out of their own free will and choice - are living together peacefully and happily over a year," a two-judge bench said.

"The Courts and the Constitutional Courts in particular are enjoined to uphold the life and liberty of an individual guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India," the court added.

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

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Relationships between Hindu men and Muslim women are ignored.

It is a term not recognised by the centre. In February, the Union Home Ministry told parliament that "love jihad is not defined in law" and no such case had been reported by central agencies.

That, however, has not stopped a number of BJP-ruled states, including Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana, from insisting they will push through "anti-love jihad" legislation.