Love Jihad

Germination

This term “Love Jihad”, first came up in Muzaffarnagar of UP during 1927. Rumors spread that a Hindu woman has married a Muslim man and for that she has converted. People gathered at her house and then it was turned out that she was always a Muslim. 1920 witnessed a flurry of orchestrated propaganda campaigns and popular inflammatory and demagogic appeals by a section of Hindu publicists and Arya Samaj against abductions and conversions of Hindu women by Muslim goondas, ranging from allegations of rape, abduction and elopement, to luring, conversion, love and forced marriages. Drawing on diverse sources like newspapers, pamphlets, meetings, handbills, posters, novels, myths, rumors and gossip, the campaign was able to operate in a public domain, and monopolise the field of everyday representation.

Inception

As a political idea, it first gained currency in 2007 in the campaigns of the fringe Hindu Right organization Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) in the Dakshina Kannada district of coastal Karnataka and parts of northern Kerala.

HJS, until recently, openly associated itself with the Sanathan Sanstha, which has been named in several terror cases like the 2009 Goa bomb blasts and was linked to the murders of communist leader Govind Pansare, social activist and rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, epigraphist and Lingayat scholar M.M. Kalburgi, and journalist Gauri Lankesh.

The HJS has been active in different moral policing campaigns in the urban areas of coastal Karnataka. It shot to the limelight when its activists in multiple incidents attacked couples in parks, pubs, and colleges as part of its campaign against the westernization of Indian culture.

By 2007, it gave the same campaign a communal twist when its leaders in multiple meetings started using the term ‘love jihad’ to suggest that Muslim men strategically entrap Hindu women, marry them and convert them to Islam as part of an Islamist project – the larger objective, according to the organisation, being to reduce Hindus to a minority group in India.

the HJS intensified its communal campaign by claiming that an organization called Muslim Youth Forum and multiple other Islamic websites had been training young men for ‘love jihad’

The term was, however, legitimized by a 2009 Karnataka high court order which asked for a joint investigation by the Karnataka and Kerala police into the “love jihad movement”. The order was in response to a habeas corpus petition filed by parents of an adult woman who, by her own admission in court, had married a Muslim man and willingly converted to Islam.

Despite her statement, the woman, who was a resident of Chamarajanagar in southern Karnataka, was directed by the court to live with her parents until an investigation report was produced. What was even more surprising was that the court linked the habeas corpus petition with other cases of missing women across the state, who according to the court, could have been victims of ‘love jihad’.

A right-wing tabloid first used the term ‘Love Jihad’ in its report on the court order, only to be picked up by many other Kannada dailies, thereby giving popular traction to the idea.

Around the same period, the HJS intensified its communal campaign by claiming that an organization called Muslim Youth Forum and multiple other Islamic websites had been training young men for ‘love jihad’. The allegations were probed by the Kerala police, which found no merit in them. Later the Kerala high court held that inter-faith marriages were common and could not be seen as a criminal act. The court also closed the investigation.

The HJS and other Sangh affiliates curiously moderated the ‘love jihad’ pitch from thereon, until the BJP unit of UP activated it again as a political strategy in 2012 –

‘Love jihad’ in its current shape is a greater divisive campaign than its former informal avatar.

 this time in rural areas of western UP where the notions of patriarchal honour and caste solidarities are deeply entrenched.

The ‘love jihad’ campaign in western UP was much more elaborate than what it was in coastal Karnataka. Here, the Sangh parivar activists used the idea to amplify the old Hindutva rhetoric that stereotypes Muslims as cow slaughterers, lustful reproductive machines, criminals and black-marketeers.

‘Love jihad’ in its current shape is a greater divisive campaign than its former informal avatar.

The idea has now transformed itself into one of the most effective Hindutva strategies to consolidate Hindu men who have struggled with their own multi-layered deep-rooted anxieties all their lives. In ‘love jihad’, most of them see a possibility to deny this reality and channel their insecurities against both Muslims and Hindu women.

Allegations of Love Jihad first rose to national awareness in September 2009. Love Jihad was initially alleged to be conducted in Kerala and Mangalore in the coastal Karnataka region.

According to the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council, by October 2009 up to 4,500 girls in Kerala had been targeted, whereas Hindu Janajagruti Samiti claimed that 30,000 girls had been converted in Karnataka alone. Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana general secretary Vellapally Natesan said that there had been reports in Narayaneeya communities of “Love Jihad” attempts.The fundamentalist Muslim organization Popular Front of India and the Campus Front have been accused of promoting this activity.

Following the controversy’s initial flare-up in 2009, it flared again in 2010, 2011 and 2014. On 25 June 2014, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy informed the state legislature that 2667 young women were converted to Islam in the state since 2006. However, he stated that there was no evidence for any of them being forced conversions, and that fears of Love Jihad were “baseless.”

Year Wise Flashback

"Save our daughters, save India" campaign to combat - "Love Jihad"

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Various organisations have joined together against this perceived conduct. Christian groups, such as the Christian Association for Social Action, and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) banded against it, with the VHP establishing the Hindu Helpline that it indicates answered 1,500 calls in three months related to “Love Jihad”. In September, posters appeared in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala under the name of right-wing group Shri Ram Sena warning against “Love Jihad”. The group announced in December that it would launch a nationwide “Save our daughters, save India” campaign to combat “Love Jihad”.

2 0 1 1

In December 2011, the controversy erupted again in Karnataka legislative assembly, when member Mallika Prasad of the Bharatiya Janata Party asserted that the problem was ongoing and unaddressed – with, according to her, 69 of 84 Hindu girls who had gone missing between January and November of that year confessing after their recovery that “they’d been lured by Muslim youths who professed love.”

"can't do what they want by force in India, so they are using the love jihad method here."


2 0 1 4

During the resurgence of the controversy in 2014, protests turned violent at growing concern, even though, according to Reuters, the concept was considered “an absurd conspiracy theory by mainstream, moderate Indians.” BJP MP Yogi Adityanath alleged that Love Jihad was an international conspiracy targeting India, announcing on television that the Muslims “can’t do what they want by force in India, so they are using the love jihad method here.” Conservative Hindu activists have cautioned women in Uttar Pradesh to avoid Muslims and not to befriend them. In Uttar Pradesh, the influential committee Akhil Bharitiya Vaishya Ekta Parishad announced their intention to push to restrict the use of cell phones among young women to prevent their being vulnerable to such activities. Following this announcement, Times of India reported, Senior Superintendent of Police Shalabh Mathur “said the term ‘love jihad’ had been coined only to create fear and divide society along communal lines.” Muslim leaders have referred to 2014 rhetoric around the alleged conspiracy as a campaign of hate. Feminists voiced concerns that efforts to protect women against the alleged activities would negatively impact women’s rights, depriving them of free choice and agency.

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In January, Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s women’s wing, Durga Vahini used actor Kareena Kapoor’s morphed picture half covered with burqa issue of their magazine, on the theme of Love Jihad. The caption underneath read: “conversion of nationality through religious conversion”.
"the existence of an organisational setup functioning behind the scenes of such cases of 'love jihad' and conversions."

 

2 0 1 6

One of the important incident of this year is Hadiya court case.
In May 2017, the Kerala High Court annulled a marriage of a converted Hindu woman Akhila alias Hadia to a Muslim man Shafeen Jahan on the grounds that the bride’s parents were not present, nor gave consent for the marriage. It ordered the DGP of Kerala to investigate cases of “love jihad” and probe incidents of forced conversion, emphasising “the existence of an organisational setup functioning behind the scenes of such cases of ‘love jihad’ and conversions.”

The decision was apparently taken based on large number of radicalised youths from Kerala joining ISIS. It also observed, “Are there any radical organisations involved, are questions that plague an inquisitive mind. But sadly, there are no answers available in this case.” The father had claimed that his daughter had been radicalised and influenced to marry a Muslim man by some organisations so she no longer remained in her parents’ custody.
''he filed another petition and alleged that his daughter was converted at the behest of ISIS and feared she may be taken to join it in Afghanistan''
The woman’s father, Ashokan Mani, had earlier filed a habeas corpus petition in January 2016 after she disappeared from the campus where she studied. He alleged his daughter was forcefully converted to Islam, and his family were reportedly told by her that she was being held against her will by two of her classmates Jaseena Aboobacker and her sister Faseena. However, after she was found, Akhila claimed that she was following Islam since 2012 and left her home out of her own will. She also stated that she was not under any confinement against her free will. She stated that she had come under the religion’s influence after hearing its teachings from her roommates. She said that she had joined a course run by Tharibathul Islam Sabha, Kottakkal to learn Islam. In her affidavit, she stated she lived with Aboobacker for a brief period and then
Hadiya, during her homeopath Studies
Hadiya with Shafeen
shifted to Satyasarani’s hostel in Manjeri, an institution allegedly promoting conversion to Islam and reported to be closely connected with the Popular Front of India. The institution introduced her to Sainaba in Ernakulam with whom she lived after her father filed the petition. The court allowed her to stay with Sainaba and later dismissed Ashokan’s petition in June 2016, after she produced records of her admission to Satyasarani. Two months later, he filed another petition and alleged that his daughter was converted at the behest of ISIS and feared she may be taken to join it in Afghanistan, citing cases of two Kerala women joining the group after conversion and marriage to Muslim men. By December, Akhila had married Shafeen and Ashokan’s petition came up for hearing in January 2017. Akhila showed the marriage certificate and marriage registration certificate, but it was annulled.

In January, Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s women’s wing, Durga Vahini used actor Kareena Kapoor’s morphed picture half covered with burqa issue of their magazine, on the theme of Love Jihad. The caption underneath read: “conversion of nationality through religious conversion”.

2 0 1 8

In January, Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s women’s wing, Durga Vahini used actor Kareena Kapoor’s morphed picture half covered with burqa issue of their magazine, on the theme of Love Jihad. The caption underneath read: “conversion of nationality through religious conversion”.

"religious conversions in the name of love"

2 0 20

In September 2020, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath asked his government to come up with a strategy to prevent “religious conversions in the name of love” and even considered passing an ordinance for the same if needed. In October 27 2020, protests erupted in India when graphic video showing a young Muslim man gunning down a 21-year-old Hindu woman Nikita Tomar in broad daylight outside her college campus went viral. The family of a 21-year-old girl student, who was shot dead by jilted lover and his associate outside her college in Faridabad, has echoed the “love jihad” conspiracy theory, saying that she was forced to convert and marry the accused.

Laws against Love Jihad

• Laws to protect Love Jihad is packaged as “Anti Conversion Law”. Although historically these Anti Conversion laws are not new.

• First state in India to come up with a law like this was Odisha (then Orissa). The Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967. Note, Orissa then had a large tribal population.

• Madhya Pradesh passed Freedom of Religion Act in 1968. Intent was to protect tribal people of today’s Chhattisgarh which was part of then MP.

• Arunachal Pradesh passed its Freedom of Religion Act in 1978.

• Tamil Nadu introduced Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Act in 2002.

• Jharkhand passed its Freedom of Religion Act in 2017.

• All the laws above were chalked out to protect conversion of minority/tribal people from Christian missionaries. Primarily it demanded, if a person intends to convert to another religion, he or she must serve a notice. The government officials will carry out enquiries to see if the conversion is consensual before they approve it.

• Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act 2018 and Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act 2019. These 2 acts first time added “marriage” to their act. They also state marriages done for sole purpose of conversion to be declared null and void.

• Recently UP government passed the Unlawful Conversion Prohibition Ordinance 2020 on 24th November. It provides a jail term of up to 10 years for any violation. All the offences under the ordinance shall be cognizable, non-bailable and triable by the court of sessions.

According to the law, if a person intends to convert to another religion, he or she must serve a 60-day notice to the district magistrate. The magistrate will then carry out enquiries to see if the conversion is consensual or if blackmail or deceit is involved.

The ordinance states that no person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person from one religion to another by use or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage, nor shall any person abet, convince or conspire such conversion. If any person reconverts to their immediate previous religion, the same shall not be deemed to be a conversion under the ordinance. Any aggrieved person, parents, brother, sister, or any relative may lodge an FIR over such a conversion.

Constitution

Article 25 in The Constitution of India 1949

25. Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion

(1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion

(2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law

(a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice;

(b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus Explanation I The wearing and carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in the profession of the Sikh religion Explanation II In sub clause (b) of clause reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly

Article 21 in The Constitution of India 1949
21. Protection of life and personal liberty No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law
Article 15 in The Constitution of India 1949

15. Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth

(1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them

(2) No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to

(a) access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and palaces of public entertainment; or

(b) the use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated to the use of the general public

(3) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children

(4) Nothing in this article or in clause ( 2 ) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes

Challenges with Special Marriage Act

1.      Marriage Ritual restrictions in inter-religion marriage forces people to get converted. One gets converted to another to be of the same religion and then get ritually married. Another option is to get married by Special Marriage Act

2.      Special marriage act 1954 is for legal inter-religion marriage.

3.      Special marriage act difficulties

Ø  Prior notice

Ø  Objections being called off by family members

Ø  Organisations against interfaith starts objecting and forces people to call off marriage

Ø  When a member of an undivided family who professes Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism or Jainism, gets married under SMA it results in his or her severance from family.

Ø  Safety and privacy of the persons getting married

Ø  Communal propaganda

Then

and
Now
Muslims are making new schemes to increase their population and to make people Muslims. They roam with carts in cities and villages and take away women, who are put under the veil and made Muslim.

In the unfolding of the tales in the 1920s and in 2009, there are certain common strains. In both campaigns, one of the arguments given by Hindu groups has been that the conver¬sions of Hindu women are linked with en¬hancing Muslim numbers. A tract pub¬lished in 1924 from Kanpur and titled Humara Bhishan Haas dwelt on the cata¬strophic decline of Hindus due to increas¬ing conversions of Hindu women to Islam. It claimed that a number of Aryan women were entering the homes of yavanas and mlecchas (terms used for Muslims in such writings), reading nikah with them, producing gaubhakshak (cow-killers) children, and increasing Muslim numbers. A poem written in 1928 and later banned, called Chand Musalmanon ki Harkaten, stated: Tadad badhane ke liye chal chalai, Muslim banane ke liye scheme banayi…. Ek¬kon ko gali gaon mein lekar ghumate hain, parde ko dal Muslim aurat bethate hain (Muslims are making new schemes to increase their population and to make people Muslims.

They roam with carts in cities and villages and take away women, who are put under the veil and made Muslim). Pro-Hindu organizations in 2009 too, have claimed that forced conversions of Hindu women in the name of love are part of an international conspiracy to increase Muslim population. The issues at stake here are not only to construct a picture of numerical increase in Muslims but also to lament the supposed decline in Hindu numbers and to mourn the potential loss of child-bearing Hindu wombs, and thus exercise greater control over women’s reproductive capacities to enhance Hindu numbers. Both the campaigns construct an image of the Muslim male as aggressive, and broadcast a series of stereotypes and repetitive motifs, creating a common “enemy” – the Other. The luring of Hindu women by Muslim men is stated to demonstrate the “lack of character” of the sexually charged, lustful Muslim men, violating the pure body of Hindu women.

...every romance, love, elopement and marriage between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man is rewritten by Hindu organizations as forcible conversion.

In the 1920s, many Hindus came to perceive abductions and conversions of Hindu women as a characteristic Muslim activity. Such constructs had deeper historical roots. Even noted Hindi writers like Bharatendu Harishchandra (1850-85), Pratap Narain Misra (1856-94) and Radha Charan Goswami (1859-1923) often portrayed medieval Muslim rule as a chronicle of rape and abduction of Hindu women. The first generation of popular novelists in Hindi – Devakinandan Khatri, Kishorilal Goswami and Gangaprasad Gupta – who started writing in the 1890s, depicted similar prejudices. Lecherous behavior, high sexual appetites, a life of luxury, and religious fanaticism were seen as the dominant traits of Muslim characters. These stereotypes of licentious Muslims were strengthened, with new contours added in the 1920s. It was claimed that now ordinary and all Muslims were indulging in such practices.

In 1924 there was a case in which Raza Ali, the deputy collector of Kanpur, was accused of abducting, seducing and converting a Hindu girl. The vernacular Hindi press launched a virulent campaign against him, using the case to argue that abduction activities were not just confined to low caste or loutish Muslims, but covered all of them. Meetings were held against Raza Ali. In 2009 too, Shahan Sha of Kerala was charged for forcibly abducting and converting Methula, a Hindu girl, and similar charges were made against him.

Whether it is 1920 or 2009, Hindu patriarchal notions appear to be deeply en¬trenched. In both campaigns, images of pas¬sive victimised Hindu women at the hands of inscrutable Muslims abound, and any possibility of women exercising their legiti¬mate right to love and right to choice is ig¬nored.

In Meerut during June 1924, handbills, meetings and rumors dealing with the alleged kidnapping and conversion of Hindu women were being circulated. The present campaign too, while focusing its anger on the Muslims, receives its emotional bonding from the victim. It is impossible for Hindu groups to conceive that Hindu women can voluntarily elope or convert. Thus every romance, love, elopement and marriage between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man is rewritten by Hindu organizations as forcible conversion. It is also assumed that the mere act of marrying and staying with a Muslim ensures that the woman is leading a dreadful life and her unhappiness is ensured. Behind it are also grave anxieties of Hindu women adapting to Muslim ways. Hindu organizations are deeply troubled with fantasies about possible relations between Hindu women and Muslim men. Portrayal of Hindu women as victims of false love shows the need felt not so much to protect them but to discipline and control them by restricting their movement, as various public places are declared unsafe for them.

References

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/no-case-of-love-jihad-in-kerala-centre-tells-parliament/story-dQHAMLCBvkBcgoQJbtxF1L.html

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/love-jihad-not-defined-under-law-says-centre/article30736760.ece

https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2020/02/04/no-case-of-love-jihad-from-kerala-term-not-defined-by-law-centre-tells-parliament.html

https://thewire.in/communalism/love-jihad-cases-govt

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/love-jihad-india-interfaith-marriage/2020/11/25/a8b33bea-2df9-11eb-9dd6-2d0179981719_story.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/a-muslim-and-a-hindu-thought-they-could-be-a-couple-then-came-the-love-jihad-hit-list/2018/04/26/257010be-2d1b-11e8-8dc9-3b51e028b845_story.html

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/10/what-does-jihad-really-mean-to-muslims/

https://www.epw.in/journal/2009/51/commentary/hindu-women-muslim-men-love-jihad-and-conversions.html

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ram-sene-coined-love-jihad-but-first-case-goes-back-a-century/articleshow/78744013.cms

https://www.myadvo.in/blog/right-to-marry-in-india-hadiya-case/

http://muslimmirror.com/eng/236-hindu-dalits-convert-to-buddhism-to-protest-against-rising-atrocities-on-the-community/

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/04/dalit-buddhism-conversion-india-modi/557570/

Hindu Women, Muslim Men: Love Jihad and Conversions by Charu Gupta

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/faridabad-love-jihad-shooting-video-protests-hindu-muslim-cctv-b1370135.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHRfyFNZCVU&t=205s

https://www.thequint.com/news/india/laws-on-love-jihad-but-modi-govt-ncw-have-no-data-or-definition