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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 1 New Delhi December 23, 2017 - Annual Number

Love-Jihad: New Face of Violence in India

Sunday 24 December 2017

by Aijaz Ahmad Turrey and Inamul Haq

Love-Jihad or Romeo-Jihad has become a common term in the Indian context nowadays. It emerged half-a-decade ago, but it has turned into a threat in contemporary India. Indian society was plural in custom and tradition in respect of region and religion. However, now the atmosphere has become one of hatred, communal as well as hostile. The question arises: who are responsible for it, Hindus/ Muslims or politicians?

History witnessed inter-caste as well as inter-religious marriages in India. From Bollywood to the cricket field, from politicians to the common man, such marriages happened in India and no-body raised her/his finger. It is remarkable that a large number of conversions happened from 2006 in Kerala, Mangalore, UP, even though these were seen as a threat to national security of India. Love-Jihad is considered an activity by young Muslim men to target young non-Muslim women for conversion (particularly to Islam). This issue got national attention in 2009, when around three thousand people (mostly women) converted to Islam in Kerala. But, the case of Akhila (Hadiya) raised a serious alarm to the whole society, because it was taken to the High Court of Kerala and even involved investigation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). In 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also used the term Love-Jihad during his election campaign in northern Uttar Pradesh by stating that there is nothing that proves that Love-Jihad exists. It is a threat spread among Muslims to keep them away from Hinduism. After the BJP’s victory in the UP election, the hatred in the name of Love-Jihad has been raised more vociferously than before.

First ‘cow vigilantism’ and now ‘Love-Jihad’. These are the two famous licences given to certain Hindu groups to threaten Muslims. India is a secular-cum-democratic country and the Consti-tution has granted us various freedoms that are denoted in the Fundamental Rights. Among them, Articles 25-28 are related to freedom of religion, where you can practice and convert to any religion and can propagate it. (Article 25) If any Muslim converts to Hinduism, then it is called ghar wapsi, while if anyone accepts Islam, especially young Hindu girls, then it is labelled as Love-Jihad. First, Muslims remain the prime suspects of the cow vigilantes as 86 per cent (24 out of 28 persons) deaths are of Muslims only (data released by IndiaSpend) and now Love-Jihad claiming another life in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district.

The first case that appeared in Kerala was simply a love marriage between a Hindu girl (Akhila) and a Muslim boy (Shafin Jahan), but was presented before the public as an anti-national activity. The marriage was considered a part of a plan to send the Hindu girl to Syria to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS). The girl was not much seen in the news as she was kept under house arrest. In an interview, she fearlessly said: “I want to go with my husband. Nobody forced me to convert.” It evidently indicates that a particular religious identity (Muslims) has been clearly under attack of the majoritarian forces.

On the other side, Afrazul, who was beaten brutally and then burnt alive in Rajasthan in the name of Love-Jihad, was a Muslim labourer from West Bengal. Mohammed Afrazul was a married person and has grandchildren. The killer, a Hindu, fearlessly uploaded the painful video and even warned other Muslims: “If you spread Love-Jihad in this country, this will be your fate. Stop Love-Jihad, otherwise get out of this country.” The victim’s family is demanding death penalty for the accused and claims that there is a conspiracy. They said: “Those who killed him like an animal and showed his pictures to the world should be hanged.”

There have been several instances of religious violence against Muslims in India since Partition. The causes of this violence against Muslims are varied. The frequent violent attacks on Muslims by Hindu mobs such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and local Gau Rakshak groups form a pattern of sporadic sectarian violence between the majority Hindu and minority Muslim communities. Recently the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) chief Mohan Bhagwat clearly made an extremely controversial statement against Muslims saying that demographic trends were disturbing and a cause for concern. The whole story of cow vigilantes and Love-Jihad revolves around the mentality of certain groups like the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party),VHP (Vishva Hindu Parishad) and RSS. They have a fear that India will become an “Islamic state” and will be overrun by Muslims. However, the result would be different. Such kind of violence-oriented hatred can become a threat to any developing country.

It seems that we are living in chains, with the majority stifling the voice of the minority. If this continues then the day is not far away when India would experience crass hooliganism and the fascism that Germany witnessed after 1933 would pravail in this country. The nation that strangles humanity can do anything beyond imagination.

The authors are Ph.D students, Central University of Gujarat.

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