Love jihad, conversion hogged limelight in UP

Love jihad, conversion hogged limelight in UP

An eventful 2014, which witnessed the decimation of regional satraps like Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati in the Lok Sabha elections midway through the year, ended with the raging conversion controversy in Uttar Pradesh, after “love jihad” hogged the limelight in the later part of the year.

The conversion controversy pitted the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) against the BJP, as they traded charges while saffron activists were arrested in different parts of the state.

The row, which began with the alleged mass conversion of about 250 Muslims to Hinduism at Agra, saw Muslim clerics and Islamic seminaries calling for action against saffron outfits. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, an influential organisation for Muslims in the country, as well as prestigious Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband made it clear that they would take “all possible constitutional and legal measures” to ensure that illegal and forced conversions did not take place.

The saffron outfits, which termed the conversion as “ghar waapsi” or homecoming, vowed to intensify their campaign notwithstanding the stern warning issued by the state government.

Political observers say the saffron outfits turned to encouraging mass conversions after “love jihad”—saffron activists coined the term for what they described was Muslims youths luring Hindu girls into marriage with converting them to islam. The issue had become a major plank during the by-polls to 12 Assembly constituencies in the state soon after the Lok Sabha elections.

The general elections in May saw the decimation of Mulayam and Mayawati as well as that of the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Congress, with the BJP bagging 73 seats with alliance partner Apna Dal. The year gone by also witnessed a royal bash at Rampur on the birthday of Mulayam, who rode an imported Victorian style “buggy”, or horse cart, and cut a 75-foot-long specially-made fruitcake amid a rain of flower petals as the crowd cheered.

The celebration invited criticism from the Opposition and as well as within the SP, with UP minister Azam Khan saying that money from the Taliban and Dawood Ibrahim had funded it. The year gone by also saw two major rail mishaps in the state, which claimed 40 lives.

The first occurred at Sant Kabir Nagar district on the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in, while the second happened in October near Gorakhpur. A tussle over the ownership of Taj Mahal also erupted this year, when Azam Khan demanded that the monument be handed over to Muslims and the money collected from the Taj be utilised for the benefit of the community. The Shia community also laid claim to the Taj, saying that Mumtaz Mahal was Shia.

Earlier in the year, 10 Kashmiri students were expelled by a private university in UP, who had allegedly celebrated Pakistan's victory over India in the Asia Cup tournament in March.

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