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The Massive Irony Of ABVP’s Campaign Against Live-In Relationships And Love Jihad To ‘Respect Women’

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By Amrita Garg:

Rents for a room on twin-sharing basis in Kamla Nagar near Delhi University’s North Campus have shot up to Rs. 15000. University hostels, with miserable living conditions for the most part, offer less than one third of the required accommodation. The university has seen a shocking shortage of infrastructure and administrative staff for the past few years, with inefficiency and error becoming the norm rather than the exception. A glaring lack of proper information dissemination channels has seen a number of students losing out on opportunities and much needed scholarships. Classrooms lie empty as students leave after waiting for hours for teachers who are nowhere to be found. As examinations approach, the students line up for ready-made notes and “guides”.



Just a month ago, the ABVP strode into power in the Delhi University Students’ Union elections, making a clean sweep on all posts. Promises were made of changing the face of Delhi University and taking care of all these problems that the students face. But come October, I opened the newspaper to see reports of a “Cultural Values” campaign now under way in the campus. The campaign is aimed, quite admirably, at ensuring women safety. How this is sought to be achieved though, forms the crux of this story.

“We will campaign against love jihad in DU after colleges re-open. The ABVP top leadership has already announced for a campaign in all universities,” declares Rohit Chahal, ABVP national secretary.

“Live-in relationships go against the grain of Indian culture and the institution of family. It is also true that hardly any such relationship succeeds. We will form student groups in various colleges and undertake case studies to apprise girls of the detrimental effects of being in such a relationship,” explains ABVP Delhi secretary Saket Bahuguna.

To this lofty end, these defenders of Indian culture formed a human chain near the Arts Faculty on October 7, when unfortunately, most of these girls who were sought to be made aware, were away on holiday.

The question is where does student welfare activism end and moral policing begin? Does a body that represent us also have the right to make personal choices for us? Should political propaganda find its way into an issue that is so sensitive and critical for society?

The student body contends that live-in relationships lack commitment and might be unsafe for the woman. More importantly, according to them, it goes against our culture and traditions. What do they have to say about marital rape, domestic violence, extramarital affairs and abandonment? Marriage is as safe or as unsafe as any other relationship. It is simply a choice that the two parties involved should be free to make. The Honourable Supreme Court seems to agree with me. In an observation made in the 2013 Khushboo case, it said, “If a man and a woman in love decide to live together as a couple, it is well within their right to life and by no means can be deemed a criminal offence.” It has further asked the Parliament to bring in proper amendments to the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, or enact a suitable legislation so that women and children born out of live-in relationships are protected.

Indian culture, or this myopic understanding of it, has long provided an excuse to strangle our many freedoms. The ABVP itself has a notorious history of invoking it time and again to further the ideology of its patron parties. In October 2011, it forced the University Academic Council to remove AK Ramanujan’s essay “Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translations” from the Bachelors in Arts course as it hurt their “sentiments and sensibilities”. Just last year it attacked FTII (The Film and Television Institute of India) students for inviting the Kabir Kala Manch to perform at an event.

Linking the baseless rumours of Love Jihad with women safety is yet another subversion of a woman’s free choice and agency. It can, and is, being used as a weapon to take away the choice of marrying outside one’s religion for love by presenting it as a conspiracy by one community against the other. The ABVP’s stance hurts the right of young people to analyse for themselves the truth or otherwise in the allegations hurled by the likes of Yogi Adityanath, purely for political gains. It must have no place in the narrative of an institution which is striving to be among the best of the world and should thus, ideally, be looked upon as a nursery of progressive and independent thought.

I agree that women safety is one of the most important issues affecting all of us and has rightfully been taken up by the ABVP. However, it should not become the breeding ground for divisive propaganda and parochial beliefs. The student body needs to recognise the mandate given to them by the students and work on providing them succour from the many problems they face on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, we continue to pay through the nose for a room/cupboard-under-the-stairs.

You must be to comment.
  1. Adil

    I guess this was bound to happen given the national political party’s influence on ABVP.

  2. Ravi

    “Linking the baseless rumours of Love Jihad with women safety is yet another subversion of a woman’s free choice and agency.”

    News from UK, not from India

  3. Gaurav

    love jihad does not point to a relationship whose foundation is love, love jihad is term being used to point to relationships where love is ‘not’ the foundation of a relationship. by portraying the issue incorrectly writer is trying to brush the issue under the carpet which no writer should do. learn to understand the ramifications of conversion and the consequences in the backdrop of kashmir/bangladesh etc. burying your head in the sand is not going to help, toeing the politically correct line is also not going to help anyone.

    the second issue of live in relationships. if someone believes that they have case studies which prove that it is not the best way forward then what is the harm is presenting those case studies.

    1. Fem

      The harm is that it’s someone else’s life and choices these set of people are impacting.

    2. Gaurav

      how can a case study threaten an individual?

    3. irate_pirate

      How to diagnose whether any relationship has a foundation of love? Is there a definite test? Get real.

    4. Gaurav

      buddy get real, islamic radicals are hell bent on creating disturbances.

    5. saurav das

      First of all please stop reading propaganda messages my friend, Love Jihad and all even if it exists in reality all you can do is tell people that they should be careful, nothing more than that. Having a campaign etc is ridiculous, and one question to all you so called protectors of Hindu faith, why are you targeting only Love Jihad, why are you silent on dowry, child marriages, rampant maritial rapes…. I wont ask you to get real ( as you really can’t) but try to get logical, do you think these problems in India are because of Islamic hardliners, no you moron they exist because of our age old practices and unfortunately none of you can see it or even if you do, don’t talk about it as it will destroy your precious religion.
      As for live in relationship, I believe ABVP is a student body and as such should be concerned only with studies and its impacts, whether or not live ins work out is a research that should be done by researchers also by campaigning against something that the supreme court of the country has clearly given clearance for, is the student body not insulting the apex court.
      The problem with this attitude is that we need to leave the decisions of love and live-ins to individuals concerned, most college students in DU will be above 18 yrs of age, are you trying to tell us that a person whom the constitution deems fit to vote does not know what to do and what no to??

      Grow up my friend this country does not face problems from extremists; it is people like you who are responsible for dragging the country to dark ages…. You are the real culprits

  4. pravi013

    “If a man and a woman in love decide to live together as a couple, it is well within their right to life and by no means can be deemed a criminal offence” an extract of observation from Supreme court.I think it should be “If a man and a woman decide to live together as a couple, it is well within their right to life and by no means can be deemed a criminal offence” a love is something that cant be quantified.

    Every man is entitled to express and live by his own set of believes and practices till threatens somebodies right of expression.

  5. Deva

    The author says ABVP is “linking baseless rumors of love jihad to women’s safety”.
    Baseless? Is the rape of a young woman baseless? Is the abduction, torture and forced conversion to islam of young women baseless? Are the first person narratives of Hindu men fleeing along with their daughters from Pakistan just rumors?

    Get your facts straight. It is this forcible conversion, torture and rape of young women that these people are opposing, wherein some men put up a false facade of charm, woo young women and lure them under the pretext of love and then abduct and convert such women.

    Sure, ABVP may be cashing in on sentiments by holding campaigns on women’s safety but that is how political system works, they find an issue and try to score points.

    But is the author a politician? What propaganda is she proselytizing? Should youth ki awaaz be the breeding grounds for such misinformed and manipulative articles?

    1. irate_pirate

      India is a free country. No one can forcibly convert anybody. AVBP does not do any work in Pakistan. Everyone has the right to marry or have a live in relationship as they please. That’s why India is a democracy.

  6. Surabhi Singh

    Our country is returning to the Dark Ages. If something is not done soon, it wont be long before Sitas and Draupadis are either burnt on a pyre or ordered to sleep with five brothers at a time.

  7. Stern_voice

    Firstly, No political organization or and group of people must interfere in someone’s personal life. And Secondly, for love Jihad ; love is something personal, love does not take account of religion color caste or creed it just happens , you don’t fall in love after reading a brief bio-data of the person. Love jihad is just a deception intended by the government to misguide the people and turn their eyes away from the big promises they made us, about black money and other development. Only three people ave been taken into account since the government has form. And still people are getting distracted by the false trail laid by the government.

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