Indian police arrest Muslim man under ‘love jihad’ law for allegedly attempting to convert Hindu woman to Islam
A Muslim man has been arrested under a controversial anti-Muslim “love jihad” law in India after a Hindu father accused him of harassing his daughter to convert to Islam and marry him. The man was arrested on Thursday from his village in Uttar Pradesh state, under the new legislation approved five days earlier. In his complaint the woman’s father claimed that three years ago the man had ‘harassed’ his teenage daughter, with whom he went to high school, pressuring to convert to Islam by offering her ‘allurements’ in order to marry him. He claims the man had threatened to kidnap his daughter if she refused. Police said the father, who strongly objected to his daughters association with a Muslim man, had similarly accused the man at the time of kidnapping his daughter, but the case was closed after the girl was found and denied having been abducted. Local media reports indicated that the two were in a relationship, but this has not been confirmed. The woman, who has not been named, married someone else in June, but in his complaint after the approval of the ‘love jihad’ law last week, her father claimed the man continued pursuing and harassing her. Under the law, which carries a 10-year sentence and a £500 fine, all marriages between Muslims and Hindus can be annulled if it is proved the woman had converted solely for that purpose. Hindu women who want to change their religion to Islam after marriage need to apply to the local district authorities for permission to do so. The law was passed by the ruling Hindu fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party, the BJP, which believes that Muslim men have launched a “love jihad” to turn Hindu women Muslim, which would dilute India’s Hindu majority. Hindu’s constitute around 80 per cent of India’s population of 1.3 billion, while Muslims comprise around 15 per cent. Over the past six years in power, the BJP has increased its political and electoral support across India, primarily by portraying Muslims as the ‘enemy’ poised to ‘dominate’ Hindus. Opposition parties and critics have called the ‘love jihad’ legislation ‘regressive’ and accused the BJP of normalising anti-Muslim sentiment, charges the nationalist have ignored. In October, a leading Indian jewellery brand was withdrawn by its manufacturer after one of its advertisements featuring an inter-faith Hindu-Muslim family was viciously trolled online by BJP supporters. Senior BJP ministers accused Netflix of the same in a scene in The Suitable Boy television series, in which a Hindu woman kisses a Muslim man. Senior BJP leaders are demanding legal action against the producer and director of the series for this ‘outrage’. In the meantime, other than Uttar Pradesh at least four other Indian states, all ruled by the BJP, are readying to pass identical ‘love jihad’ legislation.