NAPM sends a letter, carrying up to 200 signatures, to the governor saying the narrative of ‘love Jihad’ which the Bill wants to counter is a hoax; it infringes on the rights of women and polarises the society along the lines of religion
NEW DELHI – Up to 200 members of civil society have expressed there “deepest concern and objection” to the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill 2021 which the state Assembly has passed recently. They believe that the Bill is “unconstitutional, infringes on the rights of women and polarises the society along the lines of religion”.
They have made their sentiments known to the Governor of Gujarat, Acharya Devrat, through a letter sent to him on Tuesday. The letter has been sent with their signatures by the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) Gujarat. The NAPM is an alliance of progressive people’s organizations and movements in India.
The signatories call on the governor not to give his assent to the Bill when it is placed before him. The Bill, the letter says, was driven by the vicious propaganda of ‘love Jihad’, a conspiracy theory by Hindutva supremacists which propagates the falsehood that Hindu women are ‘lured’ into marriages by Muslim men. This premise itself is outrageous and flawed at multiple levels.
The NAPM reminds the governor that in February 2020 the Union government admitted that the term ‘Love Jihad’ is not defined by law and thus not recognized legally. Still the Gujarat government decided to move the Bill for a crime for which “there is no data or evidence to show cases where any crime is committed”.
“The passing of this Bill by the Gujarat Legislative Assembly is alarming as it has been passed despite the clear legal jurisprudence on the matter of ‘love Jihad’. It is adequately clear that the Bill seeks to address an alleged wrong or a situation that doesn’t exist. In fact the real intent of the Bill is to give legitimacy and institutionalize a sectarian campaign which could lead to communal conflicts and criminalization of the already marginalized Muslim community. That the narrative of ‘love Jihad’ which the Bill wants to counter is a hoax, is clear from the arguments placed in the Assembly by Shri Pradipsinh Jadeja, Gujarat’s Minister of State for Home,” the memorandum reads.
It further says that the real intent of the Bill is to “nurture a form of political and ideological assertion and intimidation; and this is sufficiently demonstrated by the fact that that the term ‘love Jihad’ doesn’t find a mention even once in this Bill! The Bill has adverse implications on personal liberty, the rule of law and equality before law – the ideas which are the very soul of the Constitution. This Bill seeks to blatantly destroy constitutional morality.”
After pleading its case against the Bill, the signatories to this letter urge the governor to reconsider it. “This Bill, if finally granted assent by the Hon’ble Governor and becomes a piece of legislation, would do irreversible damage to the struggle for women’s rights, harmonious inter-community relations and the respect for diversity within the society. As the Guardian of the Constitution, we plead that Your Excellency reserve the bill for the consideration of the President using the power bestowed on you under Article 200 of the Constitution.”