A day after the Vijay Rupanid-led government passed the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill, 2021, in the Assembly prohibiting “forcible conversion by marriage”, the Minority’s Coordinate Committee (MCC) wrote to the Governor demanding cancellation of the Bill, calling it unconstitutional and a tool that can be misused against minorities.
In a letter written by Mujahid Nafees, convener of MCC, to Governor Acharya Devvrat on Friday, Nafees said, “The fundamental spirit of this law is the violation of religious freedom. The political conspiracy by masculine political leaders to impose their parochial agenda on the choice of women, is more visible. The Home Minister has not given any concrete figures in the purpose and reasons of this amendment law, nor has mentioned any number of cases in the state of religion conversion, whereas through his hate speech towards Muslim religion, the political agenda was clearly visible which is to create an atmosphere of fear among the people of Gujarat.”
The letter added, “This amendment law also violates the freedom found in the Special Marriage Act of 1954 in India. Choosing marriage to anyone, following any religion is a fundamental pillar of personal freedom. This Act is also a violation of Article 51A (f) of the Constitution of India which clearly states that it is the duty of every citizen of the country to promote harmony irrespective of religious, linguistic, regional or communal differences. This law is also a clear violation of the equality of all before Article 14 of the Constitution of India and the 1948 Declaration of International Human Rights, which India has also signed (sic).”
Under the Act, any religious conversion made or aided for the purpose of marriage is punishable for not less than three years and up to five years in jail and a fine not less than Rs 2 lakh is also imposed. The Act also has provisions to include any organisation which is found allegedly violating the provisions of the Act and the in-charge person of the organisation can be jailed for a minimum of three and maximum of ten years.
Gujarat Home Minister Pradipsinh Jadeja, who presented the Bill on Thursday, had said, “Our government will never forgive the Jihadi elements who abuse our daughters. Love Jihad is not our political agenda but it is our pain and our government is determined to take strict actions by converting this pain into the system (Sic).”
The MCC also objected to Jadeja’s statement and wrote: “While presenting this amendment Bill, the way the Minister of State for Home took the name of Jihadi, Islamic institution and tried to link it with the terrorists, is clear that by making these amendments, the law will be misused towards the minorities.”
This story first appeared in indianexpress.com