Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2019 which guarantees more stringent action against people involved in forceful conversion has come into force in the state.

The state’s home department on Friday notified, this replaces a 2006 law which had been repealed by the assembly in 2019. It comes into force in the BJP-ruled state nearly a year after it was passed by the state assembly.

This law has been introduced against conversion by force, inducement or through marriages solemnised for the ‘sole purpose’ of adopting a new religion, with a provision of up to seven years in jail for violators. 

There is a provision of stringent punishment of up to seven years in jail in the Act as compared to the three years under the previous law. The Act prohibits conversion by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, inducement, marriage or any fraudulent means.

The development comes in the backdrop of the Uttar Pradesh government notifying an ordinance last month against forcible or fraudulent religious conversion that provides for imprisonment of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of Rs 50,000 under different categories.

Several other BJP-ruled states are mulling such laws which party leaders say are aimed at fighting ‘love jihad’, a term used by them for the alleged tricking of Hindu women into converting to Islam for marriage.

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