Anti-conversion ordinance in Uttar Pradesh : a much needed legal intervention

According to reports, the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh is planning to promulgate an anti-conversion law through ordinance. This is being done in view of the increasing number of cases of grooming of Hindu girls by Muslim men in the state, where Muslim men have concealed their religious identity to lure Hindu girls, sources said. This phenomenon is also termed as “Love Jihad”, but we use the term grooming as it has a much wider scope and more appropriately describes the whole process.

In recent times, the maximum number of such cases have been reported from Kanpur and Meerut. Often, it is seen that underage Hindu girls or girls from vulnerable backgrounds are being groomed by Muslim men with false Hindu names. Many of these men are already married and are much older than the girls. Clearly it is not “love” but something else in play.

Anti-conversion laws

The anti-conversion laws in various states seek to prevent any person from converting or attempting to convert, either directly or otherwise, another person through ‘forcible’ or ‘fraudulent’ means, or by ‘allurement’ or ‘inducement’. Even as Christian missionaries and their leftist-Islamist allies term these laws as unconstitutional and impinging upon the fundamental right to propagate religion, we must remember that in the Stanislaus v. State of Madhya Pradesh case of 1977, the Supreme Court had said that “right to propagate religion” did not include the “right to convert” any person!

This judgment was necessitated by the Freedom of Religion Acts enacted by Odisha and Madhya Pradesh in 1967-68. Christian missionaries wanted unfettered right to convert Hindus by hook or crook, while the government became aware of their activities. Therefore, Mr. Stanislaus challenged the act in MP High Court and the case went up to Supreme Court.

In time, six other states – Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Uttarakhand- enacted similar laws, with Uttarakhand as recently as in 2018 after being suggested to do so by the High Court!

According to reports, “The law in Uttar Pradesh would be quite similar in nature which would make religious conversions a complex and cumbersome procedure,” said an official in the law department.

Uttar Pradesh has seen many cases of grooming recently, specially in Kanpur. It is reported that many of these cases are connected to a certain locality called Juhi Colony in Kanpur. This issue received much limelight and the state government had set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe 11 such cases of ‘love jihad’ in Kanpur recently.

Niyogi committee

While the reason for new law in Uttar Pradesh is Muslims grooming Hindu girls, originally it were the activities of Christian missionaries which forced the state govts to bring anti-conversion laws. After independence, the government of Madhya Pradesh constituted a committee headed by M. Bhawani Shankar Niyogi, a retired Chief Justice of the Nagpur High Court(this high court later became a bench of Bombay HC) and included five other members viz. M.B.Pathak, Ghanshyam Singh Gupta, S.K.George, Ratanlal Malviya and Bhanu Pratap Singh.

This committee was to look into the activities of Christian missionaries and contacted thousands of people for preparing the report. The findings were shocking to the policymakers of the time. It found that :-

  •  the schools and hospitals established by missionaries were being used as means of securing converts. Please note that this is happening even today and has now included access to water(“Jesus wells”) as a blackmailing tactic to get people to convert. However, there are practically no reports in media about these tactics.
  • the practice of the Roman Catholic priests or preachers visiting newborn babies to give ‘ashish’ (blessings) in the name of Jesus was also cited. Indeed, even today you can find the soul vultures trying to find vulnerability, during birth, illness and death of family members.
  • taking sides in litigation or domestic quarrels, kidnapping of minor children and abduction of women and recruitment of labour for plantations in Assam or Andaman was cited as a means of propagating the Christian faith among the ignorant and illiterate people.
  • The report writes that especially Roman Catholic missions used money-lending as a device for proselytisation. They gave loans which were later written off if the debtor became a Christian. Even today the money and jobs being used as a means to convert are quite common.

The anti-conversion acts referred above were based on the findings and recommendations of Niyogi committee.

Conclusion

The laws enacted in previous states have not proven very effective in curbing missionary activities. Large scale conversion is still going on in those states and there are hardly any convictions under these acts ever. However, these sometimes have a deterrent effect by their very existence and are useful in that manner.

 The UP law might be made keeping in view the issue of grooming and might include some other provisions too. We suggest that a clause may be included that any inter-religious marriage be compulsorily registered under Special Marriages Act. Currently Muslim groomers convert the girls to Islam and marry under Muslim law. As child marriage is allowed under Muslim law and polygamy is also allowed, the rights of women are not protected. Further, she cannot claim any alimony if she decides to not remain with the husband.

By registration under SMA, all these issues can be avoided. Child marriage cannot happen under SMA, similarly polygamy is not allowed and women can also claim alimony. There is an urgent need for a legal framework against grooming of Hindu girls by Muslim men and hopefully the law in UP will provide a template for other states to emulate.


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About the Author

Pawan Pandey
Pawan Pandey is an Educator based in Dehradun, currently working as Senior Staff Writer with HinduPost. He is an Engineer by training and a teacher by passion. He teaches for Civil Service Exams as well as for Common Law Admission Test. He has deep interest in politics, economy, culture and all things Bharatiya. He fancies himself to be a loving husband and doting father. His weakness is Bharatiya food, particularly sweets. His hobbies include reading, writing and listening to Bharatiya music.