On the concluding day of the Budget session in Gujarat state assembly, Gujarat Congress MLA Imran Khedawala tore a copy of anti forced religious conversion bill. The Congress MLA justified his act claiming that this is just another political gimmick by the Bhartiya Janata Party and should not be accepted.
After Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, the Gujarat government tabled a Bill to amend the ‘Dharma Swatantrya’ (Freedom of Religion) Act, 2003. The amendment bill seeks to prohibit and punish religious conversions by impersonation or promising a better lifestyle. To expand the scope of the law, forceful conversion of a young woman would invite a jail term of five years and Rs 2 lakh penalty. In the case of a minor girl, the punishment would go up to seven years in jail and Rs 3 lakh penalty.
Imran Khedawala claimed that he was prompted to tear the Bill as it targets only one community by using a word like ‘jihad’. While speaking on the provisions of the Bill, Khedawala said, “Home Minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja has only mentioned that the daughters of the Hindu community are targeted by men from a specific community. Daughters, be it from any religious community, will always be our daughters.
Imran Khedawala in a media interaction later claimed that while he opposes the Bill, he does not support forceful conversion after marriage or marriage by deceit. He added that the punishment for the same should be more than what was stated in the Bill. He went on to the extent of demanding Saudi’s Sharia-like punishment for the crime.
BJP Gujarat MLA, Pradipsinh Jadeja has demanded strict action against Imran Khedawala for the aggression shown in the assembly.
The anti-forced religious conversion law seeks to curb the menace of rising cases of forced religious conversion, especially the one where Muslim men pretend to be Hindu or hide their religious identity to get into relationship with Hindu women under pretext of marriage. You could read more about such cases here.