All you need to know about the new anti-unlawful religious conversion ordinance by Yogi Government

With rising number of alleged Love Jihad cases from across the country, Uttar Pradesh Government on Tuesday approved a new ordinance seeking to put a stop on unlawful religious conversions in the state. Love Jihad refers to an alleged tactic employed by Muslim men to convert Hindu or non Muslim woman to Islam on the pretext of love or marriage. Many Love Jihad accusers have also alleged that the men first introduce themselves as of same religion as the woman and reveal their true identity only after establishing intimate relations to a certain extent.

The proposed law, dubbed as ‘Prohibition of Illegal Conversion Ordinance 2020,’ seeks to curb all forms of unlawful religious conversions in the state. While it will certainly have a direct effects on what is touted as ‘Love Jihad,’ it is certainly not limited to that alone. Here is all that you need to know about the new UP ordinance by Yogi Government:

1. The proposed law will outlaw religious conversion carried out only for the sake of marriage. Marriages wherein the woman has been made to change religion only because of it, would be considered ‘null and void.’ Such marriages would not be legally recognized. Those who are found be offender would liable for imprisonment for a period of one to five years or a fine upto Rs 15,000 or both. In case the woman who has been made a victim is minor or from SC-ST communities, the imprisonment period will go up to three to ten years and the fine amount would be increased to Rs 25,000.

2. While many are believing the ordinance as a step specifically against Love Jihad, that is however not the case. Rather, the proposed law is against all sorts of unlawful attempts to change ones religion. The law aims to prohibit religious conversion done using dishonest means like false representation, through force, influence, torture, allurement or for the sake of marriage.

3. The new law will also outlaw mass conversion drives, which are often undertaken by missionaries, especially in tribal areas. In the case of mass conversions, the punishment is from three years to 10 years and a fine of Rs 50,000 on the organisations which indulge in it.

4. The law however does not violate citizens personal liberty to change religion. If anyone wants to change religion they can do so by informing the district magistrate. But the district magistrate has to be informed two months in advance on a prescribed form, and the person can convert once the permission is granted. Converting without the District Magistrate’s approval can result in imprisonment from 6 months to 3 years.

Apart from Uttar Pradesh, several other BJP ruled states such as Haryana and Madhya Pradesh are also mulling similar ordinances. However, Yogi ruled UP became the first to approve the ordinance. Once approved by the Governor, the ordinance will become law.

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