Fight against ‘love jihad’ a political trick

There is no law which forbids men and women from different religious groups marrying of their own free will

Although taboos are breaking with the times, and social and economic mobility has permitted the crossing of old barriers and the assertion of the individual will against family or group pressures, even inter-caste marriages are not commonplace in large tracts of the country, leave alone inter-faith marriages. But the latter do happen and are taking place with greater frequency than before, and not just in films.

There is no law which forbids men and women from different religious communities marrying of their free will. And yet this is precisely the area in which Hindutva politics has sought to insinuate with vigour, riding on the wings of orthodoxy. The BJP and Sangh Parivar’s fight against the so-called “love jihad” is the perfect example of this. It focuses on real or imaginary marriages between Muslim boys and Hindu girls, and exaggerates the phenomenon to the point of grotesqueness.

The aim is to raise communal temperatures for political dividends and to make out the Muslim community as a whole as comprising of criminals, if a reported observation of the BJP chief of UP is something to go by.

The gentleman had the political temerity to maintain that 99.99 per cent of the cases involving crimes against Hindu women in UP were perpetrated by Muslims. This is completely unattested data which falls in the category of false propaganda and could, therefore, be actionable under the law. The other side of the BJP’s narrative in UP is that the Akhilesh Yadav government is appeasing Muslims and not taking action against criminals.

The political motive behind fostering the so-called “love jihad” phenomenon is palpable. Assembly elections are coming up in UP in about two years and the Hindutva elements would like their propaganda to travel right down to the voter level in every town and village of the state.

It may be recalled that this idea of the “love jihad” — Muslim boys enticing Hindu girls into marriage and conversion — had first surfaced about the same time as the commencement of the Muzaffarnagar communal violence in September last year, months before the Lok Sabha election. Needless to say, not a shred of proof has been offered to make the argument, but the idea is catching on thanks to the networks of Hindutva organisations.

It is noteworthy that while inter-faith marriages occur in various parts of the country, it is in UP on which the Hindutva elements are concentrating. The reason is the Assembly election. The BJP is counting on winning it and coming to power in India’s largest state after extracting 71 Lok Sabha seats from it on the strength of a communal campaign. The Babri mosque-Ram mandir dispute is no more available as an instrument to create a communal divide before elections.

( Source : dc )
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