‘Love Jihad’ is being widely discussed by the general public, the issue has come before the High Court of Kerala, and religious oranisations of various hues are levelling charges and counter-charges against each other, but the “truth” of the matter is yet unclear.
What is clear is that ‘Love Jihad’ refers to an allegedly well-organised campaign, being fanatically and fervently executed by young Muslim men, in which they intentionally lure women from different faiths, especially Hinduism and Christianity, into love and marriage and then forcibly convert them into Islam.
The “clandestine” campaign called ‘Love Jihad’ or ‘Romeo Jihad’ first came to light in September 2009, when two young Muslim men from Pathanamthitta, a town south-eastern Kerala, reportedly beguiled two women, one a Hindu and the other a Christian, into marriage and later forced them to convert into Islam.
Though at first the two women insisted that they embraced Islam of their own free will, later, after returning to their own homes, they said they had been abducted and been forced to convert to Islam.
The two young Muslim men in question reportedly belonged to Campus Front, the student wing of Popular Front of India (PFI), a radical Muslim outfit.
The incident at Pathanamthitta triggered a plethora reports in the media on the so-called Love Jihad – covering it from various angles, and describing and defining it in different ways, so much so that the subject started weighing heavily on the minds of Malayalees in general within and outside Kerala.
At the same time, various organisations of Hindus and Christian came up with their own opinions and explanations.
The radical Hindu group called Sri Ram Sena says that thousands of non-Muslim girls, after getting married to Muslim men, have been converted to Islam by force in the last few years. Further, the Sri Ram Sena alleges that those women who have been thus converted are being trained to do “anti-national activities.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the country’s main Opposition party, maintains that the members of ‘Love Jihad’ are supported by funds from abroad, especially the Islamic countries in West Asia.
Christian organisations, too, are seized of the alleged threat from ‘Love Jihad.’
The powerful Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) – an alliance of the bishops of the Catholic Church in Kerala – has come out with vivid data and description of the deeds of the radical Islamic outfit.
An article was published in the newsletter of the KCBC asserting that about 4,000 girls have been forcibly converted to Islam since 2005 after they fell in love with Muslim men.
The article, written by Father Johny Kochuparambil, secretary of the Commission for Social Harmony and Vigilance – which is a wing of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council – lists 2,868 non-Muslim girls who were “trapped” in the “Love Jihad net” from 2006 to 2009. The writer of the article did not specify where the data was obtained from, but insisted that it came from “highly reliable sources.”
The Kerala Catholic Bishops Council has even issued guidelines on how to protect girls from the menace, by asking parents and authorities of school and colleges to keep a close watch on the activities of the children and to discourage them from over-use of mobile phones and internet.
It appears that the alleged Islamic campaign has spread from Kerala to the neighbouring state of Karnataka.
In October 2009, the father of a woman, who converted to Islam in order to marry a Muslim man, filed a habeas corpus petition in a court in Karnataka complaining that his daughter was the victim of Love Jihad. However, the woman informed the court that she converted to Islam on her own free will.
All the same, the court observed that it has “serious suspicions” about the woman’s statement that her conversion was voluntary and that the case has “ramifications for national security.” The court went on to state that the case of the converted woman raises questions of unlawful trafficking of girls and women in Karnataka and ordered that the case be investigated by the police.
According to the Karnataka court’s order, police in both Karnataka and Kerala initiated an investigation into whether an outfit named Love Jihad, or Romeo Jihad, did exist or not. The police of both states reached the conclusion that such a group does not exist.
Jacob Punnoose, Director-General of Police, Kerala, informed the High Court of Kerala that no organisation named ‘Love Jihad’ existed in Kerala, but added that the police have reasons to suspect that there have been “concentrated efforts” by Muslim men to persuade non-Muslim women to convert to Islam after falling in love.
The alleged threat of ‘Love Jihad’ has brought Christian and Hindu organisations to work together to combat the “menace” since women from both the communities reportedly have become victims.
The media in Kerala quoted an office-bearer of the Christian Association for Social Action (CASA), based in Kochi, as saying that girls from both the Christian and Hindu communities are “falling prey to the Love Jihad campaign” and so the CASA is cooperating with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad on this issue.
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