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Days After UP Approved 10-yr Jail Term, Governor Promulgates Ordinance against 'Illegal' Conversion

File photo of Governor of UP Anandiben Patel. (Credit: Twitter)

File photo of Governor of UP Anandiben Patel. (Credit: Twitter)

The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday approved the draft of a stringent law to deal with religious conversion for the sake of marriage, which BJP leaders refer to as 'love jihad'.

Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel on Saturday gave assent to an ordinance against forcible or "dishonest" religious conversions, an official said. The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 has been promulgated with the approval of the Governor, the official said.

The state cabinet presided over by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had earlier this week approved the draft ordinance to curb forcible or "dishonest" religious conversions including those for the sake of marriage, which could land violators in jail for up to 10 years. According to it, a marriage will be declared null and void if the conversion of a woman is solely for that purpose, and those wishing to change their religion after marriage need to apply to the district magistrate.

The move comes after the Allahabad High Court in a key verdict has said two adults have the right to choose their life partner. The court said that the law allows two adults to live together, whether they are of the same or opposite sex. The court made it clear that no person or family could interfere in their peaceful life. Even the state cannot object to the relationship of two adults, said the court.

Earlier the UP government had approved the draft of a stringent law to deal with religious conversion for the sake of marriage, which BJP leaders refer to as "love jihad". In recent weeks, BJP-run states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have revealed plans to enact laws to counter alleged attempts to convert Hindu women to Islam in the guise of marriage, which party leaders often refer to as love jihad.

"The UP Cabinet has decided to introduce an ordinance against unlawful religious conversions," said State Cabinet Minister Siddharth Nath Singh. "The way in which religious conversions are done using deceit, lies, force and dishonesty is heart-wrenching, and it was necessary to have a law in this regard."

The ordinance was approved at a meeting of the state cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow. "The UP Cabinet has decided to introduce an ordinance against unlawful religious conversions," said State Cabinet Minister Siddharth Nath Singh. "The way in which religious conversions are done using deceit, lies, force and dishonesty is heart-wrenching, and it was necessary to have a law in this regard."

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