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UP Assembly passes bill on ‘forced’ religious conversion

Under the bill, a marriage will be declared void if the conversion is solely for that purpose, and change in religion after marriage has to be applied to the district magistrate.

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Lucknow: Amid protests by the Opposition, the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly on Wednesday passed by voice vote a bill aimed at curbing religious conversions by fraudulent or any other undue means, including through marriage.

The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2021 seeks to replace the ordinance promulgated in November last year that provides for imprisonment up to 10 years and a maximum fine of Rs 50,000 for violators.

The bill was passed in the House even as Aradhana Misra, the Congress Legislative Party leader and Lalji Verma, the leader of BSP in the Assembly, protested.

Under the bill, a marriage will be declared “null and void” if the conversion is solely for that purpose, and those wishing to change their religion after marriage need to apply to the district magistrate.

The bill mainly envisages that no person shall convert, either directly or indirectly from one religion to another by use or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage nor shall any person abet, convince or conspire such conversion.

The onus to prove that the conversion has not been done forcibly will lie on the person accused of the act and the convert, it said.

An aggrieved person, his/her parents, brother, sister, or any other person who is related to him/her by blood, marriage or adoption may lodge an FIR about such conversion, according to the bill.

BJP leaders had said the legislation intends to counter alleged attempts to convert Hindu women to Islam in the guise of marriage, which right-wing Hindu activists refer to as ‘love jihad’.


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