Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editors: Purnendu Pritam, Deepthi Ramadas, Sandeep Suman
Camerapersons: Athar Rathar, Abhishek Ranjan
(This story was first published on 18 December 2020, and is being republished from The Quint's archives to mark one year since the anti-conversion law in Uttar Pradesh came into effect.)
Yeh Jo India Hai Na… yahan agar Rashid aur Pinki ne ki hai shaadi... to UP Police kyon bani hai kabab mein haddi?!
Yes, the harassment has started. Rashid & Pinki got married in July, went to get their marriage registered in Moradabad last week, like lakhs of Indian couples. But instead of it being the happiest day of their lives, it ended with Rashid and his brother in a UP Police jail and Pinki in a women’s shelter home.
Why? Because of UP’s bigoted, divisive, unconstitutional anti-Love Jihad ordinance! It took Pinki two days to convince the district magistrate that she was an adult, who had chosen to marry Rashid. Only then could she return to her in-laws. Rashid was stuck in jail for another X number of days!
Click on the player below for the full podcast.
Bareilly, Kushinagar, Mau, Lucknow, Sitapur – stories of harassment, intimidation and abuse are being reported across UP. And if this hate-filled experiment works, four more BJP-ruled states plan to follow. So, before that happens, we need to understand how the idea of ‘Love Jihad’ is fake, how cleverly this simple but sinister term is being sold to us and, why this crass concept of ‘love jihad’ is so important to those who practice communal politics in India...!
Fake ‘Love Jihad’ Claim #1
This video went viral in October with the claim – that this was a Hindu father begging his daughter not to marry a Muslim man.
Right-wing commentator Shefali Vaidya shared it on Facebook saying, “This video broke my heart… Hindu father begging his daughter to not fall prey to #LoveJihad... she will end up as a third wife bearing her fifth child.. or she will end up being beheaded.” Matlab saare Muslim negative stereotypes ko daal kar likha....
A tweet by Renee Lynn, sharing the video, had thousands of likes & retweets. It said – “Another Hindu daughter deceived in Islam marriage... she will regret it because right after marriage, she will be killed.”
But The Quint’s fact-checking team found that the husband was not a Muslim. The couple’s names were Lakharam and Sita, both Hindus from Rajasthan.
Yet, this is how complete fake news and lies about so-called ‘love jihad’ is spread with the clear intent of shredding the secular fabric of our country to bits.
Fake ‘Love Jihad’ Claim #2
Here’s another video showing a gym instructor and a woman working out, went viral with the claim – the woman is Hindu and the instructor Muslim, is touching her inappropriately to lure her.
But this video too, like many others – is a lie. Do you know where the video is from – Trinidad in the West Indies, shot in 2017 – showing a husband and wife, training at a gym. No ‘love jihad’ here. Just two people exercising!
Now, we work overtime calling out such fake videos. But each time, by the time we bust such a video, it’s been seen and shared by thousands. And some end up believing what they’re told. And so, the big lie about ‘love Jihad’ stays alive. And there are many bigots creating more such fake videos, so even as one gets debunked, new ones start getting shared. And these are not stray individuals – it’s a well-oiled, fully co-ordinated hate industry. Those tackling fake news around ‘love jihad’ have identified several social media handles and groups that repeatedly created and spread hate-content around the imaginary concept of ‘love jihad’.
How ‘Love Jihad’ Vigilantes Operate?
Now, built around this fake idea of ‘love jihad’, is an intimidation and protection industry. People and groups who say to us – ke yeh jo khatarnaak cheez hai – ‘love jihad’ – that actually doesn’t exist… we will fight it for you, we will protect you from it.
This is how ‘love jihad’ is used to smear the entire Muslim community. In our gali-mohallas, in our villages, on WhatsApp, these are the people you will find, peddling lies, hate, and violence against ‘love jihad’. It’s crucial to understand how their mind works, how they operate.
My colleague Asmita Nandy met them outside the home of Nikita Tomar, who was shot dead in October 2020 by a man who had stalked her for over two years. Since the man was Muslim and Nikita was Hindu, it was twisted into a case of ‘love jihad’. In front of the girl’s house, they lied about the facts of the case. But Nikita’s father told us the accused had never approached Nikita with a Hindu name,
The fact is Nikita’s family had been dealing with this stalker, an entitled male brat from a politically connected family. The crime that needs to be tackled here is stalking – stalker attacks girl with acid, stalker shoots girl dead. In most such cases, the stalker and victim, are from the same community, not Hindu-Muslim. Child marriages, honour killings, marital rape – shouldn’t our police and legal system focus on that? Shouldn’t we actually be encouraging inter-caste and inter-faith marriages, instead of fighting an imaginary thing called ‘love jihad’?
But lets return to Swami Jitendranand outside Nikita Tomar’s house and see how he openly incites violence. “We know how to palto vehicles”, said Jitendranand – a clear reference to the Vikas Dubey alleged encounter in UP and a direct signal to the public gathered around, that when it comes to ‘love jihad’, the political leadership, and local administration – be it in Haryana or UP – is on his side. He even promised lawyers to help anyone arrested for violence. The unfortunate fact is – Jitendranand was right...
Why Anti-Love Jihad Ordinance Could Be Struck Down
With five BJP-led state governments now stating that they plan to come forward with anti-love jihad laws, it’s now out in the open that hatemongers like Jitendranand have the backing of elected state governments.
Yet, petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court and many believe the ordinance will be struck down as unconstitutional, for several reasons:
- Firstly, the fact is that the central government and the country’s police forces don’t yet record offences under the heading of ‘love jihad’.
- Secondly, there are already laws against forced conversion.
- Third, any law that declares the religious conversion of a consenting adult for marriage illegal, will violate the Constitution’s fundamental commitment to secularism in India.
Real Objective of ‘Love Jihad’
But here’s my point – I don’t really believe these state governments will be too disappointed if their proposed anti-love jihad laws are struck down several months from now. Because, even they know that for such a law to come through would be an unlikely bonus. What the real objective is – is for ‘love jihad’.
- to be a talked about
- to exist in political speeches
- to continue to be spread as fake news on social media
- to be thrashed about in the TV newsrooms of ‘Godi media’
- to keep tarring, vilifying India’s entire Muslim population
- to label an entire community as terrorists.
But the act of falling in love, that most natural, wonderful, human experience –converting that into devious act of conspiracy, and labelling it as ‘love jihad’ – that makes it far simpler for India’s hate brigade to tar an entire community, far easier than accusing them of being terrorists. And it doesn’t need proving in a court of law, it just needs to be believed by the gullible millions.
Ye Jo India Hai Na… Ultimately, no law court can demolish the idea of ‘love jihad’. It will only be trashed if it is rejected by the heart and mind of every secular Indian…