Love Jihad -The Malicious Agenda of Religious Supremacists

Before I begin, let me acknowledge the fact that the UP BJP has recently dropped the Love Jihad issue from it’s political resolution.

The head of UP Bajrang Dal – Balraj Singh did not mince his words. He clearly said – Muslims of UP want to take over the state just like the Muslims in Kashmir. They’re going to do it by duping/trapping (forcibly and emotionally) Hindu Women into marriage, convert them to Islam and use them to change the demographic balance.

The same issue was raised by the Sangh Parivar last year in Karnataka. There were many reports of moral policing and vigilantism by groups like VHP and Sri Ram Sene. The Sangh outfits also assumed that all the “reported missing” women were victims of Love Jihad.

The Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC), BJP and The Hindu Aikyavedi have been making similar claims of an organized group of Muslim youths luring young women from other communities to convert to Islam feigning love.

All of the above accusations are very disturbing in many ways. Question is how do we separate the truth from the hype?  Interestingly very few convictions have been made in such cases mainly because the courts have found no or little evidence. The key questions to be asked here are – How many of those religious conversions were voluntary? How many of those were forced/coerced? Are their any laws protecting us against forced conversions? In the case of eloping teenagers (where the girls were deceived), how much of the fault lies with the parents/adults? Sadly, I believe the issue has not been discussed in the right way.

Some media houses conducted investigations in Uttar Pradesh on the issue of Love Jihad, thanks to the rigorous campaign of the BJP and Sangh Parivar across the state. What they found was that a significant number of Hindus had no clue about the menace. Some even denied that such practices take place in their state and blamed the media for the hype. While further investigating on the issue, In Meerut it was found – Women believed that they could be threatened by any man in general, not particularly those from the Muslim community. Violence against women in general was the major concern raised.

The Indian Constitution in Article 25 grants to citizens of India of all religious persuasions freedom to profess, practise and propagate their faith in a way that does not disrupt public order and does not affect public health and morality adversely. At the same time, the Constitution provides a criminal code to prosecute those who are running the business of forced conversions. Not to forget, there are anti Conversion laws in some states. The law of the land is on the citizen’s side. We are an extremely religious nation. Every religious community has groups which look after the safety/well being of their brethren. It’s fair to say our society is complex. The atmosphere is such that any religious act by any community cannot go unnoticed for a long time. Living under such immense scrutiny, I find it hard to believe that members of X community can coerce members of Y community into performing acts which will be detrimental to the interests of Y community, and get away with it unnoticed for a long period of time. There will be exceptions, but sadly what the religious supremacists want us to believe is that the exceptions are the norm. I’m not for a moment suggesting that the cases reported in Britain where Sikh Girls have been coerced into performing Sexual acts by groups of Muslim men or any other cases we find any where in the world have absolutely no religious motivation. There *could* a vile Islamist aspect to it (the reason why I stress on could is because there’s no explicit mention of Love Jihad in Islam).  What I’m strongly against is generalization. The term “Love Jihad” offers collective blame to the entire Muslim community (which is what the propagators of this term are trying to do.)

There is no denying that Islam forces the Muslim men to marry Muslim women only and vice versa. It doesn’t regard the marriage to be authentic if either one is a Hindu. In order to escape from this medieval ruling, we have the Special Marriage Act, 1954 in India. My friend Harsh Gupta and Arvind Narain wrote excellent articles on strengthening the SMA and discouraging the religious marriages which force people to convert. Personally I would go a step further and begin laying the foundation for a Uniform Civil Code (which is one of the reasons why I voted for the NDA). A Secular UCC brings about a sense of oneness among the people of the nation. One people, One Code and Justice for all.

People are free to stop their children from dating members of a particular community. If you feel there are “Jihadi” predators out there, then advise your teens to ask for valid ID (Passport, PAN etc) before dating. Ask them to inform the adults about the person they’re going out with. Spread the message of not dating the “forbidden” community members in your religious/social gatherings. If you find any of the “predators” are even asking your girls out or making friendship, inform the concerned authorities immediately. {The above para is for those who are “extra concerned” or paranoid about the whole issue}

I hope common sense prevails soon and the issue is looked at in totality. The Bipolar discourse of Absolute Denial or Gross Exaggeration has gone on for too long.

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