Uttar Pradesh enacted the anti-conversion law, which makes “forced” or “fraudulent” religious conversions a crime without bail with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, on Saturday.
According to the law, a marriage will be declared “null and void” if the conversion of the woman is solely for that purpose. Those who wish to change their religion after marriage must submit an application to the main district authorities.
On the same day the law came into force, a man named Tikaram Rathone submitted a report to the police, alleging that the student was trying to force his 20-year-old Hindu daughter, who is married, to convert to Islam and marry him.
Rathore alleged that the man had developed a friendship with his daughter at school and wanted to “coerce, persuade and seduce her” into converting.
“Despite the constant disapproval of my family and myself, he (the accused) is pressuring us through abuse and death threats,” Rathore said in his complaint.
Police in the Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh confirmed via Facebook that the man was arrested on Wednesday.
Critics have called the law Islamophobic, unconstitutional and regressive. Many are concerned that it leads to abuse and harassment, and that the law makes it increasingly difficult for interfaith couples to marry in the country.
Other states, including Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka and Assam, have announced plans to follow Uttar Pradesh and introduce similar laws.
All five states are governed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Hindu Nationalist Party (BJP), which has faced accusations of perpetuating anti-Muslim sentiment.
The BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has previously been criticized for similar laws. Last year, the BJP-governed state of Himachal Pradesh amended its anti-conversion law, prohibiting conversion through misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, coercion, seduction or marriage. He also introduced jail terms without bail for the crime.
Critics of the BJP say religious polarization has increased since Modi came to power in 2014. Hindu-Muslim marriages have sparked controversy in India, but tensions have risen of late, with the concept of “love jihad” dominating the headlines. in recent months.
In October, the popular jewelry brand Tanishq posted an ad featuring an interfaith couple – a Hindu woman and a Muslim man. After right-wing Indians accused them of promoting “love jihad” and tracked them intensively online, the company withdrew the ad, saying it feared for the “well-being” of its employees.
In November, authorities accused Netflix of doing the same, after its television series “A Fit Boy” featured a scene in which a Hindu woman and a Muslim man kiss in front of a Hindu temple. Narottam Mishra, a BJP member and Madhya Pradesh state interior minister, said the scene hurt “religious sentiments” and ordered officials to investigate legal action against the series’ producer and director.