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“Love Jihad”: Provoking War In Religion And Love


By: Suzann Abraham


On October 26, 21-year-old Nikita Tomar was shot by Tauseef when returning home from college. The Special Investigation Team of Haryana, India revealed that Tauseef had been stalking Nikita for over two years. The mother claimed that he had harassed her and pressurised her to convert to Islam to marry him. The family had filed a complaint against him but withdrew it after the accused’s family assured them that he would not harass her anymore. “After that, there was no contact between us and the accused or his family. Nikita had been attending her college regularly. She was a bright student, scoring high marks in her college. She had scored very high marks in her Class 10 and Class 12 examinations...losing her in this manner has left us shocked,” said Nikita’s mother.

However, the Home Minister in Haryana claimed that the accused is a relative of Congress leaders and the victim was forced to take back their complaint in 2018.

The Haryana government also concluded this incident as a case of “love jihad.”

The term was first used in 2009 by Hindu and Christian groups in the states of Karnataka and Kerala. It refers to a conspiracy theory in which Muslim men deceive women to covert to Islam. This has led to attacking inter-religious couples, especially if the male is a Muslim.

However, in 2009, the Karnataka Criminal Investigation Department investigated and concluded that there were no organised attempt by any group to entice women of Hindu or Christian backgrounds into converting to Islam through marriage. In 2012, Kerala concluded the same along with Uttar pradesh in 2014.

In 2018, the Indian Supreme Court was also involved in restoring an inter-faith marriage between a Hindu woman who converted to Islam and a Muslim man. Despite her testimony that she converted willingly, the family claimed that she had been victimised by love jihad.

Following the murder of Nikita Tomar, five Indian states proposed laws on religious conversions around marriage, fuelling the conspiracy theory. In fact, Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, stated, “The government is taking a decision to stop love jihad… I warn those who conceal their identities and disrespect our sisters. If you don't mend your ways, your funerals will begin soon.” He was against love jihad for years claiming it was a campaign to make Muslims more populous in India. Later, the leader of Madhya Pradesh said, “There will be no jihad in the name of love, whoever does such an act will be set right.” Along with Karnataka stating that religious conversions for marriage would be banned by law soon. These states are led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), known for their nationalist Hindu beliefs.

However, this raises the possibility that such laws would undermine the right to religion and liberty.

According to Article 25 of the Constitution, people have the right to conscience and to profess, practice and propagate religion. Since India is a secular country, they apply to all religions equally and ensure one cannot infringe the rights of another. An individual’s rights to conscience is not restricted simply because they don’t conform to the ethics and morals in a religion. It cannot also be restricted if the individual never violated laws or infringed someone else’s rights.

A case in 1975 added to the interpretation of Article 25 saying that public order and peace must not be disrupted and cause violence. The BJP can use this to rule love jihad as an issue that causes disruption in public order and set laws against it to regulate interfaith marriages to maintain public peace.

In September, a couple requested for police protection after being harassed for their interfaith marriage. The woman, Muslim by birth, had converted to Hinduism a month before her marriage on July 31. The Allahabad High Court declined their request and ruled that any marriage that involves a conversion a month before cannot be legal. An individual cannot convert without any knowledge of or faith in the adopting religion. This is important as it relates to the rights in Article 25 and the basic rights to liberty unless harming public order or laws.

But if a law is passed, how can one determine the real motivation for an individual to convert? What evidence would be used? Self-declarative testimony or any conversions that occured just a month before marriage? Should there be a waiting period between conversion and marriage? How would such laws prevent violence? Would it enrage more?

In the picture above, the hashtag “SaveHinduGirls” is used to address forced marriages or conversions and grant liberty to women. Unfortunately, the proposals for such laws are not considered for any sympathy for women but to stop conversions and interfaith unions. It is to increase the state’s role in the personal lives of citizens, leading to harassment, violence and eventually mass uproars. Religion is used to instigate events that would give the government more power and control. Ultimately, those who choose love over all lose their rights to peace, sanity and liberty.

References:

https://www.timesnownews.com/india/haryana-news/article/nikita-tomar-murder- prime-accused-tauseefs-maternal-uncle-who-is-in-jail-arranged-desi-katta/674246#:~:text=Nikita%2C%20a%2021%2Dyear%2D,Haryana's%20Ballabhgarh%20on%20October%2026.


https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/south-asia/claiming-to-be-fighting-against-love-jihad-indian-states-plan-law-against-hindu


https://scroll.in/article/977649/bjp-wants-to-stop-love-jihad-but-its-real-aim-is-undermining-right-to-religion-and-liberty


https://twitter.com/taranathpoojary/status/1322863405636612105 (Picture)


*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.

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