India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party on Tuesday approved a decree in Uttar Pradesh laying out a 10-year prison sentence for anyone compelling others to convert their faith or luring them into changing their religion through marriage, officials said.
The move follows a campaign by hardline Hindu groups against some interfaith marriages that they describe as “love jihad”, Muslim men engaging in a conspiracy to turn Hindu women away from their religion by seducing them, Reuters report.
Meanwhile, critics said the unlawful conversion order approved by the cabinet of Uttar Pradesh, run by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP, was aimed at further alienating India’s 170 million Muslims by painting them as aggressors plotting to weaken Hindus.
Under the decree – which will become a law after its approval by the state’s governor, a formality – a couple belonging to two different religions will have to give two months’ notice to a district magistrate before getting married.
The couple will be allowed to marry only if the official finds no objections.
Uttar Pradesh government minister Siddharth Nath Singh said prison terms of up to 10 years would stop unlawful conversions and provide justice to women.
Hindus makes up 80 percent of India’s 1.3 billion population. But hardline groups accuse political parties of appeasing minority groups such as Muslims for votes and in recent years have stepped up a campaign for a Hindu-first India.
NEWS/PHOTO SOURCE: World News Agencies