No ‘love jihad’: BJP, stop crying wolf

No ‘love jihad’: BJP, stop crying wolf

With the Narendra Modi government unequivocally stating in Parliament that no case of ‘love jihad’ has been reported, allegations by right-wing organisations that a large number of Hindu girls are being weaned away from their religion and converted to Islam by playing on their emotions have fallen flat on the face. Responding to a question regarding the Kerala High Court’s observation that ‘love jihad’ did not exist in the state, junior Home Minister G Krishna Reddy told the Lok Sabha, “The term ‘love jihad’ is not defined under law. Article 25 of the Constitution provides for freedom to freely profess, practice and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health.” Only a few days ago, the Ministry of Home Affairs had said in response to an RTI query that it had no information on any ‘tukde-tukde gang’— a term frequently used by BJP leaders and, most inappropriately, by government ministers, including Home Minister Amit Shah, to describe their critics and opponents.

To have to admit the truth must have been embarrassing to the government and the ruling party, which uses ‘love jihad’ as a political tool to polarise society on religious lines, especially in Karnataka, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh. The BJP and right-wing organisations dubbed every case of inter-faith marriage as ‘love jihad’ and their cadres subjected such couples to undue harassment. The most prominent case was that of Hadiya (formerly Akhila Ashokan) who was investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on the suspicion of being a victim of ‘love jihad’ after she married a Muslim. While the Kerala High Court annulled her marriage, the Supreme Court set aside the order and restored it, upholding a woman’s right to choose her partner.

In the din of the BJP and its Parivar crying wolf over a non-issue for their political purposes, the country misses the real threat. And that is of terrorist group Islamic State luring women into its fold with the false promise of empowerment, a reality across the world. While there are reports of men leaving their homes to join the IS, a prominent church group in Kerala has alleged that some 12 Christian women have been converted to Islam in the last three years and taken to Syria. The National Commission for Minorities Vice-Chairman George Kurian aptly captured the situation when he said, “Conversion per se is not the problem, but in these cases the conversion is not into Islam, but into terrorism.” Those in government and in investigating and intelligence agencies must resist being led by the nose by the party’s political propaganda and look the real threat in the eye. For this, they have to first shed their prejudices.

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