M’tra d’ty CM Devendra Fadnavis defends rallies against ‘love jihad’, promises law against mixed marriages

Speaking within the state legislative council he also said that his government would decide on ‘love jihad’ law soon even while his minister, Mangal Prabhat Lodha faces a privilege motion for grossly exaggerating numbers of cases before this ‘Committee’

Love Jihad

MUMBAI: Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday stated that the sentiment of so many people attending ‘love jihad’ morchas must be respected and therefore the Eknath Shinde (Shiv Sena SS)- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government may bring in a law against such marriages soon. He was speaking in the state legislative council.

Phadnavis controversially added that prima facie it seems there is a design behind love jihad-type incidents taking place in the state! He also said that “the state government has taken cognisance of the 50 Hindu Jan Aakrosh Morcha rallies across the state demanding a law against love jihad, and will soon take an appropriate decision on bringing a law against ‘love jihad’ after studying similar laws brought in by other states. All the approximately 25 such rallies have generated huge concern among citizens for the accelerated use of hate and targeted speech against minorities at them.

Ironically just three days ago, the Maharashtra minister for women’s development, Mangal Prabhat Lodha faces a privilege motion for making a false statement before the state assembly on the subject. Speaking during the budget session, Lodha had brazenly stated that that the state of Maharashtra had over one lakh ‘love jihad’ cases. The BJP leader made the remark during the Maharashtra Assembly Budget Session. Lodha had stated that “Maharashtra had more than one lakh cases of love jihad, which upset society.” he had then said that “the state government’s interfaith marriage committee has no say in anyone’s personal life or religion. But we want to avoid another Shraddha Walkar case. This is the government’s responsibility.” The Samajwadi Party president, Abu Hashim Azmi filed privilege motion against BJP leader Lodha for making false claims of having received 152 cases in the state assembly, even as the Bombay High Court allowed PIL by Rais Shaikh against the Maharashtra government’s resolution.

After the formation of the controversial 12-member committee (Inter-Faith Marriage Coordination Committee) on December 13, 2022, Samajwadi Party MLA, Rais Shaikh had – through a letter written on February 16, 2023, sought a response from the ministry on the number of cases of such marriages pending before it. Now, as per a response received by Samajwadi Party MLA Rais Shaikh from the government ministry, even after months have passed since the setting up of the 12 member Inter-faith Marriage-Family Coordination Committee, there are currently zero cases before the panel. On Monday, March 20, Rais Shaikh received a response stating that there was currently no case before the committee, as reported by Hindustan Times. Yet Fadnavis persists with the unsubstantiated claims that such cases occur!

Read how CJP has been relentlessly tracking hate speeches and complaining too. CJP has also started an online campaign to the political leadership to adhere to constitutional values not divisive politics,

While the situation on the ground spirals towards polarisation, clearly the political leadership is in no mood to listen. In that context Fadnavis’ statement that the interfaith marriage-family coordination committee set up by the women and child welfare department doesn’t supersede any existing law and its scope is only limited to connecting families of girls such as Shraddha Walkar whose parents couldn’t contact her is questionable. In fact, the Maharashtra police has been turning a blind eye to over three dozen complaints filed by Citizens for Justice and Peace, Tushar Gandhi and even the recently formed Salokha Samiti, an umbrella organisation consisting of 45 organisations in Maharashtra.

Fadnavis was replying to a call to attention motion on increasing cases of alleged love jihad in the legislative council raised by MLC Gopichand Padalkar.

The deputy CM also said the new law against love jihad which was under active consideration will be within the constitutional framework. Fadnavis also announced that the director general of police will be told to sensitise the police and soon a standard operating procedure (SOP) will be issued for taking timely action in cases where parents complain their daughters have been cheated in alleged love jihad cases and cannot be contacted.

“It is a fact that between 30,000 and 50,000 people have taken part in these morchas in various districts. We don’t think that there should be no interfaith marriages. They can do it, but this must not be done with the intention to cheat. This is very serious. So we have taken cognisance of the sentiments of the people. We are studying love jihad-type laws that have been passed by other states and an appropriate decision on bringing such a law will be taken soon. This law will be within the constitutional framework,” Fadnavis said.

“The interfaith marriage-family coordination committee will not supersede any existing law. It is only to establish contact between parents of girls and the girl if she is not at her home like it happened in the Shraddha Walkar case. Had the police taken action in time and had the parents been able to reach her in time, she could have probably been saved. The parents were saying they only wanted to contact her one time and see if she was well or not. If the existing laws are not able to provide enough protection, then there is a need for a special law. The government is serious about this issue. If so many people are taking part in morchas, then there is a sentiment in the people and the government has taken note of it,” he said.

Just last week the Bombay High Court has converted a petition filed by SP MLA from Bhiwandi, Rais Shaikh into a PIL which will be heard soon. Citizens for Justice and Peace (Cjp.org.in) has challenged similar laws brought in by nine states and the matter is being currently heard in the Supreme Court. The last hearing was on March 17 and the matter is likely to come up after a month.


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