Uproar in India's Haryana State Assembly Over Anti-Religious Conversion Bill
© AP Photo / Michael ProbstA Muslim woman walks over the Christmas market in Frankfurt, Germany
© AP Photo / Michael Probst
Haryana is set to become the fifth state under BJP rule to have adopted an anti-conversion law. On 9 February, the state cabinet approved the draft of the Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Religious Conversion Bill, 2022.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) rule the state at present and Congress is the main opposition party.
According to Haryana state chief Manohar Lal Khattar, the Bill is aimed at prohibiting religious conversions through threat, coercion, fraud, allurement, misrepresentation and by marriage or for marriage.
It also aims to end cases of "Love Jihad", the state chief said while discussing the Bill.
The term "Love jihad" is used by the BJP and refers to alleged attempts by Muslim men to force Hindu women to change their religion through marriage.
In view of Congress' opposition to the Bill, Khattar stressed that although everyone remains free to choose their religion, the Bill will only affect "incidents of forced religious conversions".
However, Congress labelled the Bill "unconstitutional".
In the state assembly, Congress politician Raghuvir Singh Kadian tore up a copy of the Bill and continued protesting despite being handed several warnings by the speaker. He was later suspended for the entire session.
Later, all Congress lawmakers walked out of the assembly.
Once the Bill is passed, anyone undergoing converting from one religion to another will have to submit a declaration to the relevant authority that the conversion was in no way unlawful.
The proposed Bill also has the force of declaring null and void any marriage that is found to have been solemnised when religion has been concealed and it also proposes imprisonment for anyone who forces conversion on a woman, minor or person from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.