Bhopal: The BJP-ruled states of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh appear to be competing with each other over bringing a stringent legislation against the so-called ‘love jihad’.
A day after the Yogi Adityanath Cabinet cleared the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, proposing a maximum punishment of 10 years for alleged ‘love jihad’-related offences, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government too Wednesday proposed a maximum jail term of 10 years.
The Chouhan government had earlier proposed a five-year jail term in its Freedom of Religion Bill 2020 that it seeks to move in the next session of the MP assembly.
Home Minister Narottam Mishra had announced on 17 November that the proposed bill would provide for rigorous imprisonment of up to five years.
The MP government’s sudden announcement had taken everybody by surprise, especially BJP-ruled states such as UP, which had made its intention to bring such a law much before.
The Chouhan government’s announcement had hit national headlines. Tuesday’s announcement by the Yogi Adityanath government took its BJP-ruled neighbour by surprise, mainly because the UP ordinance proposed to double the jail term.
MP springs into action
MP Home Minister Mishra suddenly called a meeting of law and home department officials at the secretariat Wednesday afternoon to discuss the draft of the bill that will be put up before the cabinet. He even tweeted a photograph of the meeting.
धर्म स्वातंत्र्य विधेयक-2020 को लेकर मंत्रालय में गृह और विधि विभाग के अधिकारियों के साथ बैठक की। बैठक में गृह विभाग के एसीएस राजेश राजौरा, विधि विभाग के प्रमुख सचिव सत्येंद्र सिंह और एडीजी अन्वेष मंगलम और अन्य अधिकारियों के साथ प्रस्तावित कानून के ड्राफ्ट पर विचार विमर्श किया। pic.twitter.com/Gfp7f5xKKT
— Dr Narottam Mishra (@drnarottammisra) November 25, 2020
After the meeting, Mishra told reporters that the MP bill will also propose a 10-year term but did not elaborate why the term had been increased. He said the bill will provide a five-year jail term for gurus, priests, maulvis and kazis who will conduct such marriages, and registration of organisations conducting such marriages will be cancelled.
While the home minister was sharing details with reporters in Bhopal, Chief Minister Chouhan announced in Umaria that he will not let ‘love jihad’ take place on MP soil.
“There is a conspiracy to divide society. I will not allow ‘love jihad’ happen on MP soil,’’ he said.
In the same breath, he slammed missionaries without naming them. “I am not against anyone but if someone indulges in conversion by force, allurement or inducement they will be punished and fined,’’ he said adding “karna hai to seva karo (if you want you can serve the society)”.
Meanwhile, the Congress alleged that there was a game of one-upmanship between Chouhan and his home minister over the ‘love jihad’ legislation. Former CM Kamal Nath’s media coordinator Narendra Saluja said the home minister called a meeting in the morning and the CM in the evening, leaving officers confused on whose word they should follow.