The issue of Love Jihad has resurrected with the case of International Shooter Tara Sahdev. The case is complex as a fair amount of alleged fraud and criminality is involved. The fear of branding all inter-religious marriages as Love Jihad (LJ) is also explicable. But what is more unreasonable in this debate is the way the so called intellectuals, liberationists, emancipationist and votaries of gender justice denied existence of “Love Jihad’ and declared Tara’s case as just another case of ‘marital discord’.
Compulsions of ‘vote-bank’ politics for politicians is understandable but what are the possible obligations on intellectuals and media in denying that LJ is a social problem; Is it because fingers are pointed towards the so-called minorities; if so, then, the point-of-view is perplexing.
There are number of reports that girls studying in schools and colleges are being allured and ultimately being cheated in the name of LOVE. Having started in Kerala, this phenomenon finds reminiscence even in Britain. V Achutanananda, a prominent communist leader in Kerala has warned about the problem. Christian groups like Christian Association of Social Action have seconded the incidents and demanded for inquiry. In 2011, UK’s former home secretary Jack Straw blamed some Pakistani Muslim men for targeting “vulnerable” White girls sexually, and got support from Hindu and Sikh groups in the UK. Even BBC’s report on September 04, 2013 has endorsed the same. None of these are Hindutva proponents.
In one of the judgments on a similar case in 2009, Kerala High court asserts that ‘there are reasons to suspect that there are concerted attempts to persuade girls to change their religion after they fall in love with Muslim boys’. The Voice for Justice, a Chennai based NGO, in its report of 2011, gives substantial cases of LJ and indicts that Muslim fundamentalists and terrorist organisations and ISI networkers have preferred to adopt the methodology of social engineering for exerting total grip of Islamic influence through NGOs. Similar traits can be seen in states like West Bengal, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat, and now in UP, Jharkhand and Assam. The denial mode, especially in the communally sensitive atmosphere of UP, may lead to backlash and harm integrity and harmony in the long run.
Interestingly, leading voices of Gender Justice in India are denying possibility of Love Jihad. They consider Hindu Women as oppressed in a patriarchal society and favour with tilted legal provisions, but same argument for a Muslim woman is a communal ploy. If the statement of an aggrieved woman is considered as a prima facie evidence in dowry or domestic violence cases then, why the same right should not be available to Tara Sahdev and likes, who are victims of LJ? Yes, these are cases of marital discord. But Tara’s case is much more beyond that. It is also a case of fraud, cheating and misrepresentation. Forceful conversion is another dimension to it. Therefore, to deal with the phenomenon, rather than outright rejection, we need to recognise and analyse this problem.
After conversion to Islam, a woman ceases to get many protections under Women Specific Legislations, such as succession, divorce and custody of children. In the absence of Uniform Civil Code, it is easier to use blatant tools of Love Jihad. Unless we address the issue of fundamentalism among Muslims, advocate internal social reforms and enact Uniform Civil Law, the root causes of backwardness, terrorism and Love Jihad cannot be dealt with.
Appeasement and vote-bank politics is definitely not a solution. Tara’s Case has provided with the opportunity to objectively analyse the phenomenon and address it with the Gender Justice perspective.