The Kerala High Court’s direction on December 9, to the state government, to take action against forced religious conversion of girls, after trapping them in love and marriage has confirmed the existence of Love Jihad. For decades, several Hindu organisations have been fighting this organised conversion racket but the political leadership was unwilling to act. They even shield and justify such acts. However, it is only now that the issue has gained judicial attention. And rightly so.
The statistics of ‘Love Jihad’ marriages in Kerala are staggering. According to the High Court, the police records showed 4000 conversions having taken place through love affairs in the last four years and 2,800 girls converted from other religions into Islam for love. In the four northern districts (which have dominant Muslim presence, including the Muslim majority district of Malappuram) 1600 such conversions have taken place.
The issue came to the attention of the High Court through an alleged case of coercive conversion, filed by an aggrieved parent. The Court, in its order yesterday said the campuses should not be turned into venues for forced conversions though false love affairs.
The state DGP Jacob Punnoose had given two varying reports to the court. First he had conceded that there was Love Jihad and then going back on it and claiming that the evidence on ground did not indicate any organised movement on these lines. The Union Home Ministry too had said that it had no information on such activities anywhere in India. This is surprising because the Maharashtra Assembly had discussed this issue when a member brought to the attention of the house the similar incidents in the state and the state government had ordered a CID inquiry into it, in July this year.
The police reports in Kerala clearly said that conversions through love affairs had been going on in the state since 1996, though the DGP had said that there were no “actionable evidences” in the matter. From the police reports it became clear that outfits like Islamist Popular Front of India (earlier NDF) and its student wing the Campus Front were the chief forces behind the Love Jihad.
The High Court in its ruling refused to ban expressions like Love Jihad and Romeo Jihad. It also rejected the anticipatory bail application of Shehenshah, who had allegedly forced an MBA student in Pathanamthitta into converting to Islam.
This publication has on several occasions raised the issue of forced, coercive and bribed conversions of people from one religion to another. Till now, Hindus were the chief victims of soul harvesting by the missionaries. Even today, conversions through financial cajoling are rampant in poor villages in India. Often they become flashpoints, as it happened in Orissa recently. In Kerala, both Hindu and Christian girls have fallen victim to Love Jihad. It is the Church in Kerala that voiced the issue loudly. The Christian leaders there are giving calls to their men to raise larger families extending all financial help from the Church to counter the demographic growth of the Muslims.
Meenakshipuram mass conversion of February1981 is still fresh in our memory. There have been other such incidents. This is to say that the method might have changed, the purpose remains the same-by all means outnumber the Hindus, demoralise them, defeat them. Hundreds of years of rule by religious fanatics did not succeed. But that is no guarantee it will not, now. That is why the society has to wake up to the threat of being overwhelmed by religious fundamentalists. Anti-conversion law is in place in some states. They need to be fortified. Local administrations should be sensitized about the issue. One of the best ways of dealing with the issue of religious conversions could be to fix a quarantine period of at least 10 years. A person wishing to change the religion should wait for that period from the date of first expressing the desire before being legally declared the converted.
The social cost of religious conversions is very high, within the community and between communities. And the ultimate goal of the people who are prompting conversions is not spirituality but money, better living conditions, social status and political power. That’s when the number becomes crucial, not the man or his soul.