The legislative assembly of Haryana, a northern Indian state, has approved a controversial anti-conversion law that rights activist say is often used against religious minorities.
The Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religious Bill 2022 became law with the votes of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who sees it as a tool to fight mixed marriages between Hindu women and Muslim men.
Opposition lawmakers from the Congress party protested the vote, according to a report on AsiaNews.
The anti-conversion legislation was first introduced in Odisha in 1967 and has since been in force in 10 Indian states: Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh.
A similar bill is pending in the state legislature in Karnataka, where tensions are running high over the ban on the wearing of the hijab in schools.
The text of the Haryana law approved bans conversions by deception, force or fraudulent means, imposing prison sentences of one to five years and a fine of at least 100,000 rupees (about US$1,300).
If conversion involves a minor, a woman or a person from a disadvantaged caste or tribe, the prison sentence rises to four and 10 years, with a fine of at least 300,000 rupees (US$3,925).