Recently, coastal Karnataka has witnessed a series of episodes involving religious bigotry and moral policing. Earlier, the Sangh parivar used ‘safeguarding Hindu culture’ as an excuse for moral policing. But the actual reason is dumbfounding. Turns out, economic reasons are behind this moral policing.
The Sangh Parivar has decided to craft a new task force — the ‘Anti-Love Jihad Task Force’ – to tackle such cases and put an end to it. Rajasekharananda Swami of the Gurupura Vajradehi Mutt, near Mangaluru, has explicitly said that he has held four rounds of baithaks with various Hindu organisations, and that this task force will emerge in few days.
Although this ‘task force’ claims to protect ‘Hindutva’ it has actually been established for economic reasons.
While the phrase ‘love jihad’ originated in Kerala, it was also invoked to assail minorities, backward classes and young men and women in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka. Before we attempt to know the reasons behind establishing this ‘task force’, let us revisit the history of ‘love jihad’ in Karnataka.
Anitha (22), a Hindu resident of Barimaru near Mani in Bantwal taluk had gone missing. In the wake of this incident, a rumour was spread – that the missing girl used to talk to Muslim boys quite often on her way downtown. Citing these rumours, people assumed that Anitha was a victim of ‘love jihad’. Meanwhile, in Kerala, the concept of ‘love jihad’ had already strengthened.
Protests were staged in Bantwala, alleging that Anitha was a victim of ‘love jihad’. Rajasekharananda Swami also took part in the protest and cautioned that the Hindutva faction would not keep quiet if police did not check love jihad. This was the first case of ‘love jihad’ in Karnataka.
Anti-Love Jihad Probe Leads to ‘Cyanide Mohan’
The police formed a team to crack the case. In the meantime, the Bajrang Dal formed two to three squads and set out to ‘solve’ the case. During the probe, Anitha’s call records indicated that she had received several calls from Peraje, a region of the Sullia-Madikeri, from a Dalit youth named Sreedhar.
Immediately the Bajrang Dal tracked down the youth, who claimed during the interrogation that his cell phone was with his sister Kaveri who had gone missing a few days before this incident.
A suspicious Bajrang Dal beat him black and blue and threw him onto the railway tracks. The local residents rescued him and handed him over to the police. The police’s second round of investigation led them to apprehend notorious Mangaluru-based serial killer ‘Cyanide Mohan’.
Sreedhar's sister Kaveri was in love with Mohan, who was a school teacher. However, Kaveri was unaware that Mohan had also professed his love to Anita. One day, he murdered Kaveri, and contacted Anita through Kaveri’s cell phone and called her to Bengaluru. Mohan and Anitha started to live in a lodge, and the former promised the latter that he would marry her.
Soon, Anitha got pregnant. One day, when Anitha had to use a public toilet, Mohan gave her a cyanide pellet saying it was a contraceptive pill. Thus, Anitha died in the public toilet. The Upparapete village police registered it as a suicide case. In the same manner, Mohan had managed to murder 23 young women without leaving a trace.
Anti-Love Jihad Agenda Backfires
The first case of ‘love jihad’ thus, resulted in Mohan’s arrest on 21 October 2009. This was a blow to the ‘love jihad’ allegations and the campaign run by the Bajrang Dal.
On 15 January 2015, Hindu organisations came to know of a Hindu girl visiting a beach in Mangaluru with a Muslim boy. The Hindu extremists immediately darted towards the beach, traced the couple and started whipping them.
One of the assaulters yelled at the girl and said that while they had been fighting against ‘love jihad’, girls like her continued to pine after Muslim guys, and hit her twice. Now, in the course of the interrogation, the mob came to know that the girl was the daughter of a BJP leader and the boy was a Hindu, who kept a beard. One of the attackers mockingly said ‘oops!’ This was indeed a blunder.
Now, let us look into economical reasons – while Bajrang Dal activists seek out and attack Hindu girls who hang out with Muslim boys in most public places, these couples are allowed to be together at any time at the ‘City Centre’ mall in Mangaluru. Why this exemption? Due to the mall’s ‘security agency’.
Hindu Right Wing-Run Security Agencies
Bajrang Dal’s convener for the southern province, Sharan Pumpwell, owns a security agency named Ishwari. Prasad Attavar, the secretary of Sri Rama Sene, who was involved in the ‘pub attack case’ and later arrested, also owns a security agency. Wherever these security agencies (owned by Hindu organisations) get a contract, Hindu girls can be with Muslim boys. Here, you will never find any cases of ‘love jihad’.
If the security contract is not given to the agencies headed by Hindu organisations, they barge into recreational places in the name of protecting Hindu culture, and fight ‘love jihad’.
The anti-love jihad task force was thus, formed to boost these security agencies, as the task force is headed by one of the conveners of the Bajrang Dal, who also owns Ishwari Security Agency. This task force serves as a warning to all organisations that hire Hindu and Muslim employees.
At the same time, it aims to intimidate organisations into hiring security guards and bouncers from Hindutva agencies.
(Naveen Soorinje is a journalist who has reported and worked on human rights, gender and child rights campaigns in coastal Karnataka. He heads the political bureau at BTV, a Kannada news channel. This is a personal blog. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)