Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath said on Saturday that his government is planning to introduce a law to regulate interfaith marriages involving Muslim men and Hindu women, citing a high court order to promise that his administration would secure and protect women in the state.

Adityanath also pledged that public land encroached upon by criminals and mafia would be used to build houses for the poor. He made the announcements while campaigning for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates in for the upcoming assembly bypolls.

In his speech, Adityanath cited an Allahabad high court order, passed on October 30, where a single-judge bench held that religious conversion solely for the purpose of marriage is not valid under law. The case pertained to a Muslim woman who converted to marry a Hindu man, and the couple approached the court for police protection.

“The Allahabad high court has said that for marriages, changing religion isn’t necessary. The government too has decided to check ‘love jihad’ with all its might. An effective law would be made that would ensure that those who cheat gullible women by hiding their identity would be effectively dealt with,” the CM said.

Love Jihad is a term used by right-wing workers to describe interfaith relationships between a Muslim man and a Hindu woman. In February this year, the government told Parliament that there was no definition of the term and no such cases were reported by agencies.

To be sure, the HC order didn’t use the term in its order.

“I want to warn all such people that if they don’t mend their ways, they would have to set out on a ‘Ram naam satya hai’ journey,” he said.

‘Ram naam satya hai’ (Ram is the eternal truth) is the chant Hindus raise while lending a shoulder to the bier during last rites.

“Many of our sisters and daughters became victims of `love jihad’. They were deceived by people using forged names and identity,’’ he pointed out.

Interfaith relationships have become a hot-button issue in several states, including Uttar Pradesh, where Hindu activists allege that Muslim men “lure” gullible women for conversion. Many experts reject these allegations and say that adult men and women are free to convert for relationships.

“Is this the first time he (CM Yogi Adityanath) used this kind of language? It’s been over three years now. Earlier he had said Thok Do (do encounter killing), and now this. Samajwadi Party is against crime but firmly believes that it is the job of the judiciary to give punishments… He has been using this kind of language and making tall claims and lies. But all kinds of crimes have skyrocketed in his regime. Innocent are getting killed, killers are getting protection,” said Samajwadi Party state spokesperson and former minister, Rajendra Chaudhary.

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