BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh averaged one case a day under the Freedom of Religion Ordinance 2020 — commonly called the ‘love-jihad’ law — in the first month of its inception.
“Twenty-three cases were registered under the newly passed Freedom of Religion Ordinance 2020 in January in Madhya Pradesh,” home minister Narottam Mishra said on Thursday. The ordinance came into force on January 9.
Bhopal, with seven cases, tops the list, followed by five in Indore Range, four each in Jabalpur and Rewa and three in Gwalior. “We maintain that this is a serious issue and such forces are active across the country. An effort has been taken in Madhya Pradesh to stop them,” Mishra said. The first case under the new law was registered on January 17 in Palsud police station of Barwani district. A married man, Sohail Mansiri alias Sunny, was arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a girl of another community for four years by hiding his original name.
Three days later, the state capital had its first ‘love jihad’ case, and clocked six more in the next 11 days.
In Mandleshwar of Khargone district, a 21-year-old college girl complained that a man named Sahil Qureshi had posed as a Hindu and when his true identity was revealed, started pressuring her to change her religion. Sahil has since got bail.
The majority of the complaints are by women who allege they were duped into a relationship, but a few are over alleged attempts at conversion through force or allure. In Indore on January 27, nine people were arrested on the complaint of a 25-year-old woman for allegedly forcing her to embrace Christianity at a mass prayer service held right behind a police station. Among those arrested are the woman’s parents. In the most recent case, a pastor and two others were booked in Seoni for allegedly luring villagers with Rs 10,000 to embrace Christianity. The FIR was registered on a complaint from a villager named Sumat Lal.
The new ordinance — which will have to be approved by the MP assembly within six months — has jail terms ranging from 1-5 years with a minimum penalty of Rs 25,000. The maximum prison term rises to 10 years and the fine to Rs 50,000 if the victim is from an SC-ST community or is a minor. Only those related to the victim, such as parents and siblings, can register an FIR while all other complainants, including guardians, need to approach the district court, say officials.