28 cases of forcible religious conversions have been registered across Madhya Pradesh so far under the Freedom of Religion law which was passed by the state assembly in March.
State Home Minister Narottam Mishra, in a written reply to a question, informed the Vidhan Sabha that 37 accused have been arrested in these cases, out of which 31 are in jail, while six are out on bail. At least five cases have been registered in Indore.
Dr Mishra was responding to a question from BJP MLA Krishna Gaur.
On March 8, the Madhya Pradesh Assembly passed the bill that penalises religious conversion through marriage or any other fraudulent means with a sentence of up to 10 years. The act also imposes a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh in these cases.
Known widely as “Love jihad” – a pejorative used by right-wing groups to target relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women, which, they say, is a ruse to forcibly convert the women – forcible religious conversions have been made punishable by some states since last year.
Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have passed laws on this while Karnataka is set to introduce the bill in the next assembly session.
While replying to Congress MLA Jeetu Patwari on crimes against women, Dr Mishra said since 2017, Madhya Pradesh has recorded 26,708 rape cases, 2,663 women were murdered, 27,827 minors were kidnapped while 854 women were abducted during the period. Out of 16,038 accused named in these cases, 1,353 have not been arrested yet, the minister said.
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