Love jihad: Celebrate love, don’t criminalise it | OPINION

Today, I wish to give attention to a phrase that will get me actually indignant. Love jihad. It’s the very coinage of this time period that, in a way, is an affront to any citizen’s sensibility. Because what it conveys, to me at the least, is a deep hatred for minorities, particularly Muslims, and the way, specifically, by which this Islami-phobia that has seeped into the minds of many is being normalised.

It’s a time period that was first coined lately by Shri Ram Sene, a self-styled Hindu extremist group led by somebody known as Pramod Muthalik, who primarily operated from coastal Karnataka and purchased fame, or moderately notoriety, when a number of years in the past, he and his followers attacked a pub in Mangalore the place {couples} have been spending a while collectively.

Now, let me additionally say that it’s not simply Pramod Muthalik. Yogi Adityanath, in his earlier avatar, earlier than he grew to become the UP Chief Minister, headed one other self-styled vigilante group known as the Hindu Yuva Vahini. And that group, too, would goal interfaith marriages and disrupt them wherever they happened. So, I’m not shocked, for instance, when the Uttar Pradesh authorities final yr introduced in a regulation that successfully banned these sorts of interfaith marriages by terming them love jihad, suggesting that they have been being carried out as a ruse for conversion. And the whole construction of the regulation was, to my thoughts, clearly in opposition to prison jurisprudence as a result of it appeared to counsel that the onus was on the couple to show that they’d not received married beneath duress or coercion.

It was virtually as if love was being criminalised and that is precisely what these legal guidelines have carried out. They have criminalised the act of two individuals falling in love with one another in the event that they belong to completely different communities. To my thoughts, legal guidelines like these go in opposition to the very constitutional proper of freedom to practise your faith, and the precise to life and liberty.

We have heard of vigilante teams of UP and different BJP-ruled states like Madhya Pradesh. And belief me, earlier than the UP election, many such instances would come up as a result of it’s a good way to play vote-bank politics and divide communities on the grounds of faith.

But this week, we now have seen the idea of affection jihad as soon as once more rear its head within the delicate, border state of Jammu and Kashmir. And this time, main the vigilantism in opposition to married {couples} should not simply Hindu extremist teams, however Sikh teams have additionally joined the refrain. Why? Because two Sikh women married Muslim males within the Valley. As a end result, all of a sudden, as a result of they reportedly transformed to Islam, these teams are all up in arms. And they’re claiming these women have been forcibly married and transformed.

This is, even supposing one of many women filed an affidavit earlier than an area Justice of the Peace, saying she was marrying of her personal free will. The different lady has even put out a video claiming she married her school sweetheart and did it in 2012. Why is she being focused immediately? Both these women, in a manner, have change into victims of a strident marketing campaign that is been carried out. One of them was forcibly taken away, her marriage annulled, married off to a Sikh boy and delivered to Delhi. The different lady is in hiding. One of the boys has been arrested. No one is aware of why.

This is the place I imagine political teams in Delhi and Srinagar which have joined these protests have frankly no enterprise to be there. I imply, take a look at it, the households say they’re nervous that their women have been forcibly taken away. For God’s sake, go to courtroom, file a case of abduction and kidnapping and show it in a courtroom of regulation. How can you place the onus on the couple to show their marriage is just not beneath coercion?

And what are these political teams as much as? There is a BJP chief, Sardar RP Singh; there may be an Akali Dal chief, Manjinder Singh Sirsa. They take out protests in Srinagar and Delhi, meet the Lieutenant Governor and the house ministry, and declare that Sikhs are being transformed to Islam. There is an election going to happen in Punjab, so an environment is being created there as nicely. Why?

I wish to perceive: Have any of those individuals fact-checked with the ladies as to what occurred? Whose view must be taken? Should the views of politicians who’re solely doing it as a result of it would give them some political clout be taken significantly? Or ought to the views of the ladies who’ve truly received married and transformed? And if they are saying it was not beneath coercion, who’re you, I or anybody else to intervene? Surely it’s their free alternative as adults.

My perception is that is the place the idea of affection jihad is so badly flawed. Because it permits vigilantes to take over the regulation of this nation after which declare that they’re the custodians of our non secular identification. Let’s be clear: this whole idea is flawed as a result of it’s constructed on the idea that the girl has no voice. It’s misogynistic. It’s virtually as if a girl marries a girl from one other neighborhood, particularly Islam, she should have been forcibly transformed. Well, why will we neglect {that a} lady has a thoughts of her personal! These are ladies and men of their 20s. Surely, as free residents, they’re allowed to have minds of their very own.

But no! Our vigilante politicians have determined that they alone will determine whether or not that is love or love jihad. What utter garbage! In my view, this whole idea is flawed; it’s anti-Constitution and solely a canine whistle to stir communal passions in our society. Love, my pals, breaks obstacles. Interfaith marriage must be celebrated and never criminalised beneath any account except you possibly can show it was kidnapping or abduction.

Why ought to a younger couple be thrown into jail as a result of they’ve married by mutual consent and are in love with one another? Who is a few native thanedar or constable or police officer to determine the couple should have married by coercion? How can we give such powers to thanedars in instances like these?

What, to my thoughts, is equally disturbing is the way in which the media narrative performs out. Look on the manner the headlines have performed out within the Jammu and Kashmir case. As if these {couples} are criminals and the politicians are the saviours and ethical guardians of society. We’re merely enjoying into the fingers of those vigilantes with such prime-time warriors.

Let me additionally let you know, curiously, this isn’t the primary such case of interfaith marriage within the Kashmir Valley. Way again in 1967, Parmeshwari Handoo, a gross sales consultant in Srinagar’s Apana Bazar, married a co-worker by the identify of Ghulam Rasool Kanth. She transformed to Islam and took the identify Parveen Akhtar. She got here from a Kashmiri Pandit household. There was a lot hue and cry and protest. Here’s the excellent news. In 1967, there was at the least no idea of affection jihad or legal guidelines being introduced in of this type. As a end result, the couple was in a position to stay collectively and dwell fortunately ever after.

Maybe we now have regressed as a society from 1967 to 2021, the place legal guidelines are normalising bigotry and hatred. As I hold saying, love is being criminalised. In the well-known movie Mughal-e-Azam, there may be one music: ‘Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya’. Now, we now have to fret and say: ‘Pyaar Kiya Toh Daro’. That’s the distinction within the occasions by which we dwell.

By the way in which, final week, our Prime Minister, on the Jammu and Kashmir problem, mentioned: ‘We must bridge dil ki doori and Dilli se doori.’ Very good phrases, Mr Prime Minister. So, could I request you to make sure that within the Kashmir Valley, love is well known and never criminalised on this method?

(Views expressed are private)

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