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Ruse to Restrict Women’s Freedom

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Campaign to Curb Inter-faith marriages:

BY: Ram Puniyani

Allahabad High Court in its recent judgment opposed the conversion to get married to the person of another faith. The logic is that in the Special Marriages act, interfaith marriages are totally acceptable. One Muslim woman had converted to Hinduism to get married to a Hindu man. Talking in this aftermath the UP Chief Minister launched a tirade against Muslim men. As per him many Muslim youth hide their religious identity, lure the Hindu girls and then convert them to Islam. They will be dealt with sternly and their own funeral processions (Ram Naam Satya Hai) will be taken out.

In a strict warning he said that such incidents will not be allowed, his Government will come out with a law against it. He also said that posters will be put up of those indulging in such activities. As if on the cue, Haryana Chief Minster Manohar Lal Khattar, another BJP ruled state came forward with the resolve of his Government to bring a law against such interfaith marriages, Muslim boy-Hindu girls, which are referred to by the derogatory ‘Love Jihad’, which by now has become a sort of provocation for violence., as witnessed in the case of Muzzafarnagar violence of UP in 2013.

In contrast to these hyperbole speeches by BJP leaders the number of cases of interfaith marriages is handful. There are both types of such marriages. One does recall the marriage of Trinmul Congress MP, Nusrat Jahan to a Hindu and the way she was trolled. Selectively case of Nikita Tomar, who was murdered by a Muslim man, in which case Tausif and Rehan have been arrested and hash tag #KshtriyaLivesMatter is making the rounds is also being projected as an attempted love jihad. Officially speaking  G.Kishan Reddy, Junior minister in Home Ministry had stated in Parliament that there is no such category as love jihad. He also pointed this out while replying to a question by a Kerala MP, about love Jihad cases in Kerala. As per him the cases were investigated and not found to be the one related to coercion etc.

Love Jihad had come to fore in a big way in case of Akhila. This Hindu girl had married a Muslim man; and had changed her name to Hadiya. After the long battle the Supreme Court upheld her right to her choice and overruling the Kerala High Court verdict and permitted her to stay with her husband. Again we witnessed the same in case of recently released and then withdrawn Tanishq advertisement. In this ad a Hindu bride, looking happy and cheerful is surprised that a Hindu ritual of God Bharai (Baby Shower) is being organized for her in her husband’s Muslim household. The communalists not only trolled this ad but also declared a boycott of Tanishq products. Under the threat of this the company buckled and withdrew the ad. The charge was same that such advertisements promote Love Jihad.

This time around apart from the types of steps being outlined by the UP and Haryana Chief Ministers, what is being dished out is a series of advices to the parents of Hindu girls to keep a watch on them, to whom they talk, their mobile phone messages and their movements. Clearly control mechanisms are being devised to keep a control on the lives of girls/women. Control over the lives of women is one of the agenda of the communal politics. Communal politics seems to be operating on the ground of ‘hate minorities’, Muslim and also partly Christians. Its other components are to push the caste equations to the pre-democratic times and also to intensify the patriarchal control, which has the danger of weakening in the democratic society. In the wake of rising education among girls in particular, the social interactions between opposite sex do go up.

As such this patriarchy is the integral part of the communal politics everywhere. It may be Muslim communalism or Christian fundamentalism, patriarchal control is the core of their agenda.

In case of Hindu Communalism, showing the threat of Hindu women being converted to Islam has part of communal propaganda. Hindutva ideologue Savarkar; in his writings chastises Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, a great icon for Hindu communalists, for leaving alone the daughter-in-law of Bassien’s Subhedar, a Muslim, who was brought to her as a gift by his soldiers. It is precisely for this reason that Savarkar, despite being admirer of Shivaji on other counts did not include Shivaji’s reign in his ‘Six Golden Pages of Indian History’, the major book by him.

As Hindu communalism (parallel and opposite to Muslim communalism) developed in north India, the communalists projected the threat of rising Muslim population in India, way back in 1920s. Charu Gupta in her ‘Myth of Love jihad’ makes an interesting observation “Pamphlets with provocative titles like “Hindu Auraton ki Loot”, which denounced Muslim propaganda for proselytizing female preys, and “Hindu Striyon ki Loot ke Karan”, an Arya Samajist tract showing how to save “our” ladies from becoming Muslim, appeared at this time. The love jihad campaign of today, too, is using similar tropes.”

Not to be left behind RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat reiterates that women should restrict themselves to household chores, while men should do the earning part.

In our large society multiple layers of life patterns are occurring at the same time. The interaction between people of different castes and religious communities is the natural phenomenon. It is this interaction which does bring people in close bandings, some of these leading to marital alliances. As such even inter caste marriage is not occurring in India in significant proportions. One of the prescriptions Babasaheb Ambedkar makes for ‘Annihilation of Caste’ is promotion of inter-caste marriages. We on the contrary are witnessing reverse phenomenon. In case of interfaith marriages the matters are worse. Here Hindu vigilantes and Muslim fanatics bay for the blood of those crossing the religious boundaries in matters of love and marriage.

  • The author can be reached at ram.puniyani@gmail.com

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