If you don’t live under a rock or perhaps if you follow Indian politics even a slight bit you must’ve heard the term ‘Love Jihad’, one of the now popularised terms used by the right-wing of India to spew hatred, Islamophobia, fear, and violence.
All in the name of identity politics and law to eventually garner votes by carrying out these grotesque and inhumane acts of injustices by the government against its citizens. The BJP is infamous for labelling dissenting voices as urban-Naxals, anti-national, ‘tukde-tukde gang’, and so on for the cause of curbing these dissenting voices. Likewise, Love Jihad is a conspiracy theory made up by the BJP & Sangh to target and demonize a particular community (Muslims in this case) that involves interreligious marriage with Hindu girls.
According to the BJP & Sangh’s narrative, Muslim men lure Hindu women for conversion to Islam by unethical means such as seduction, kidnapping, feigning, deception, and ultimately marriage as a part of a broader ‘war’ by Muslims against India and Hindus.
Not to much surprise, the media also plays a vital role in spreading this conspiracy to every house possible. We can witness this upon tuning in to any of the major news channels operating in our country. Almost every channel has or regularly shows content based upon this topic and is very much responsible for directly manipulating people by the means of fake and distorted information.
Even the police under BJP governed states user fear and intimidation against couples, even those who have had consensual marriages and subjugate young Muslim men by fake charges and FIRs based on a facade as we have already seen on multiple occasions after the administration of this law in states like UP and MP.
It’s quite clear that the BJPs prior argument is that most of the people who convert their religion are mostly misguided and ill-informed. For the sake of a counter-argument, I interviewed two Muslim converts, Mr Saddam, an ex Hindu and Mrs, Heena an ex-Catholic. We shall delve into their psyche to see the factors which come into play for someone to convert their faith in this case particularly Islam.
Mr Saddam lives in the small town of Dhanbad and used to work petty jobs due to not having a proper education. He worked his way out to finally own a small barbershop in a predominantly Muslim locality.
He says, “I always was fascinated with Islamic culture and traditional values but the main reason due to which I converted to Islam was that I despise and oppose the Hindu tradition of burning corpses and also my love for a Muslim girl who is now my wife. I was certainly scared at first for falling in love with a Muslim girl and that too in a predominantly Muslim neighbourhood but I somehow managed to convince both of our families after a lot of abortive attempts.”
He went on to add, “I knew that I truly had to convert when I had to watch the burning corpse of my father and at that moment I truly questioned my belief and traditions for the very first time.”
Whereas in the case of Mrs Heena, a former Catholic who grew up in the city of Kolkata, says that she grew up with a lot of different cultures and religions around her but eventually she couldn’t help but embrace Islam later in life. “I grew up in quite a secular household, my mother herself who is a former Hindu converted to Catholicism to marry my father.
But despite her conversion, my dad never was against the idea of her performing Hindu traditions and rituals and hence I actually grew up believing that all regions are equally true at least morally and ethically but as soon as I entered my 20’s, I felt that I have to choose my faith. Perhaps it was due to my existential crisis in that period and eventually at the of 26, I made the decision to shift towards Almighty Allah. My family came out to be very supportive and accepting of my decision and I certainly consider myself very privileged regarding that,” she says.
And no matter what the government of the day might propagate, we can clearly make out that that certain people willingly chose the faith Islam which also comes off as contrary to the general content put out in the media, and mind you these above-mentioned people are just a couple out of possibly thousands of others who either due to being subjected to casteism or perhaps due to other reasons chose to leave behind the faith they were born into.
In conclusion, we can state that even though the Love-Jihad conspiracy is nothing but yet another improbable hoax and a mere distraction based on the sensitive issue of faith and marriage which is harmful to the harmony of our country in the long run.
But despite all that the BJP has still managed to use this rhetoric for their benefit and particularly to solidify the roots of conservatism and hatred. So it is up to us citizens who need to reconsider our priorities and make them heard loud and clear so that we might have more progressive topics in political discourses instead of an absolute unjust and farce topic like love-jihad.