Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday urged the police to develop a standard operating Procedure (SOP) for probing cases of ‘love-jihad’ in the state.

The root cause of ‘love jihad’ is forceful religious conversions, Mr Sarma claimed in his address to the superintendents of police at a convention in Bongaigaon.

“Besides, an act will be implemented soon in the state through which the marriageable age will be legally fixed for all communities, multiple marriages will be stopped and more legislative steps will be taken so that when arrests are made for violating the norms, the accused do not get bail,” Mr Sarma said.

The chief minister has been claiming that the triple murder case in Golaghat where a 25-year old Muslim man killed his Hindu wife and her parents on Monday was a case of ‘love jihad’, a term used by right-wing groups to allege that Muslim men lure Hindu women to convert through marriage.

He also claimed there have been many tragic incidents of suicide by girls who have been victims of ‘love jihad’.

Mr Sarma had earlier claimed on Thursday that there will be peace in the country if Hindu and Muslim men marry women of their respective communities. The chief minister told the convention that another operation to combat child marriages in the state will be launched in September and legislative backing will be given to ensure prosecution of the accused held for polygamy and child marriages.

Mr Sarma urged all SPs of the state to be prepared for more arrests in September as there will be another round of action against child marriage then.

”Whenever a child marriage comes to our notice we will have to prosecute the accused under POCSO as it is a secular Act and does not deal with any religion,” he said. The POCSO Act applies equally to all citizens of all religions who commit sexual offences against children.

”There are some vintage acts that have come to our notice. We will repeal them as it comes in the way of taking action against child marriage,” he said. Mr Sarma said crime against women in Assam has drastically come down to 14,030 cases in 2022 as against 29,046 cases in 2021, which is much below the annual average of 27,240 cases between 2017-21. Crimes against children in the state have also come down to 4,084 as against 5,282 in previous years.

High profile cases must be tried in special courts, special public prosecutors must be engaged and charge sheets must be filed within the stipulated period to serve as a deterrent in future, he added.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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