Shraddha Walkar murder: Amend laws for stricter punishment in ‘love jihad’ cases, BJP MLA writes to Yogi Adityanath

Lucknow: BJP MLA Rajeshwar Singh on Thursday urged Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to amend the state laws dealing with heinous crimes and proposed stricter punishment for ‘love jihad’ in view of the gruesome killing of a woman by her inter-faith partner in Delhi recently. He also recommended changes, including fast-track trial, no bail to accused, automatic special protection to witnesses besides death penalty for rape and murder, and life imprisonment for rape in such (love jihad) cases. Love jihad is a term used by right-wing groups and activists to allege a concerted effort by Muslim men to convert Hindu women to Islam through marriage.

Demanding amendments to the criminal procedural law, Singh said there is a need to broaden the definition of allurement in cases of ‘love jihad’ and it must include marriage, or a promise of marriage or conjugal relationship or live in relationship.

A copy of the MLA’s letter has also been marked to Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju.

“The bone-chilling incident of a Muslim man brutally murdering and then chopping the body of the Hindu girl into 35 odd pieces, in the city of Delhi, is reminiscent of the ‘love jihad’ crimes that have been reported recently from across the nation,” the ruling party legislator stated in the letter.

The police officer-turned-politician said a series of such similar events have led to a scenario of “perpetual fear and profound distrust bordering on a sense of alarm in the community” and is, therefore, definitely a “cause of great concern” for all legislators across the country.

“These hate crimes perpetuated by radicalised members of a certain community do not deserve to be treated as regular criminal acts, necessitating a fast-track approach to investigations, charge-sheet and trial, within the framework of our rule of law, thereby ensuring that the trust reposed by the common man on our criminal justice system is not impacted adversely,” Singh said.

He said he has personally engaged with different sections of the society and compiled their thoughts for the chief minister’s consideration.

The MLA said there is consensus amongst his constituents that it is necessary to carry out amendments to the statute through the state legislature, as has been done in the past “to ensure the safety of women and thereby maintain public order”.

Singh was referring to the killing of Shraddha Walkar (27) allegedly by her partner Aftab Poonawala (28) in Delhi’s Mehrauli area in May this year.

Poonawala had allegedly strangled Walkar and sawed her body into 35 pieces which he kept in a 300-litre fridge for almost three weeks at his residence before dumping them across the city over several days past midnight, according to police.

In the proposed legislative amendments in the letter, the BJP MLA stated, “In order to ensure that such offences are not repeated in the future, it is necessary that we adopt a time-bound schedule for investigations and trial such that the investigation is completed within 60 days of the registration of the offence and the trial within 60 days thereafter.”

“It is also necessary to consider stricter punishment for the offences relating to ‘love jihad’, including mandatory death penalty for offences of ‘rape’ and ‘murder’ and life imprisonment for those involving rape,” Singh said.

He also lauded the state government for bringing the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act (UPPCRA), 2021, but added that there is a necessity to widen its scope to deal with heinous offences.