Police in North India Arrest 10 Under ‘Love Jihad’ Law

An Indian Muslim bride (R) places her signature on a certificate as she participates in a
SAM PANTHAKY/AFP via Getty Images

Police in northern India have arrested ten men for allegedly forcing women to change their religion after marriage, officials in Uttar Pradesh state told Reuters on Monday.

The Uttar Pradesh (UP) cabinet passed a law on November 24 prescribing up to ten years in prison for people found guilty of the crime, which is popularly known in India as “Love Jihad.” The term refers to an alleged phenomenon of Muslim men using marriage as a lure to ultimately convert Hindu women to Islam. The UP cabinet is controlled by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling, Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Four senior UP police officials said on Monday that ten men were arrested last week across different parts of the state on suspicion of committing the new conversion crime. The police based the arrests on separate criminal complaints filed by parents alleging their daughters were abducted by Muslim men.

“We are using the new law to only arrest those men where we have proof to show it is a clear case of forced religious conversion,” one police official told Reuters. He said he had not been authorized to speak to the press on the matter and disclosed the details on the condition of anonymity.

Police in the UP district of Sitapur said on December 5 they had arrested seven men under the new law for allegedly abducting a Hindu girl from her home.

“A case has been registered against eight people under the new anti-conversion law,” Sitapur Additional Superintendent of Police Rajeev Dikshit said, adding that police had yet to arrest the main suspect. “Seven accused have been arrested. Seven teams have been deployed and the main accused will be nabbed soon.”

UP police made their first arrest under the new conversion law on December 2 in the state’s Bareilly District days after a man filed a complaint with police alleging that his daughter was being harassed by a Muslim man intent on converting her to Islam.

“This is the first arrest under the new law. Accused Owais Ahmad was arrested from the Richha railway gate in the Bahedi area here on Wednesday. He was produced before a local court and was sent to 14 days judicial custody,” Bareilly Deputy Inspector General of Police Rajesh Kumar Pandey told the Press Trust of India (PTI) on December 3.

The case against Ahmad was filed on November 28 and was the first case to be registered in Uttar Pradesh under the new conversion law, according to Bareilly district officials.

“The complainant has accused Ahmad, a resident of the same village, of trying to convert his daughter through ‘allurement,’ police said,” according to PTI. Ahmad was a high school classmate of the alleged victim when he began to pursue her three years ago, the complainant, named Tikaram, claimed.

“[T]he accused started pressuring her to undergo religious conversion and perform ‘nikaah’ [Arabic for ‘marriage’] with him, according to the complaint,” PTI reported. “But when the woman opposed, he threatened to kidnap her, Tikaram has said in his complaint.”

According to the report, the alleged victim “married someone else in June. However, Ahmed continued to harass her and her family members,” the complainant alleged.

After UP passed the “Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion” law late last month, other BJP-ruled states — including HaryanaMadhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and Assam — vowed to draft similar legislation banning forced religious conversion through marriage.


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