Politicisation of undefined spectre of ‘love jihad’ under ultra-nationalism

During a rally in Jaunpur, an alert for “love jihad” was given by Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Hindu nationalist leader Yogi Adityanath.

Another piece of  misinformation wrapped in luscious orange.

‘Love jihad’, anti-muslim and anti-women rhetoric, alleges that Muslim men target women belonging to non-Muslim communities for conversion to Islam by feigning love.

The discourse is nothing but a ploy to polarise the society on religious lines and have patriarchy and Islamophobia infiltrate the society deeper if that’s at all possible. And again, the underlying catch is to further the social exclusion of Muslims.

According to Kerala High Court’s observation that ‘love jihad’ did not exist in the state, junior Home Minister G Krishna Reddy had told the Lok Sabha, “The term ‘love jihad’ is not defined under the law” on 5 February 2020.

Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij on Tuesday said that a strict law would be enacted to control ‘love jihad’ cases in the State and soon a committee would be constituted to draft the law.

Madhya Pradesh home minister Narottam Mishra also claimed the draft bill for the proposed legislation, christened Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantra Vidheyak, 2020, is ready. The bill will be tabled in the coming winter session of the Assembly, according to him.

How can an undefined idea from an uncharted territory bother the people of a supposedly “Secular” nation so much that they feel the need to have a law for it?

During a rally in Jaunpur, an alert for “love jihad” was given by Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Hindu nationalist leader Yogi Adityanath. He said, “I warn those who conceal identity and play with our sisters’ respect. If you don’t mend your ways your ‘Ram naam satya’ (chant related with Hindu funerals) journey will begin.”

Buried under the towering communal surface, the entire conversation is lined with deeply patriarchal notions to keep “good” young women, subjected to the ideas of perfect Hinduism. The State as the guardian angel and supposed advocate of women-centric laws and issues relating to women’s safety use spectres like ‘love jihad’ to push their misogynistic, paternal agenda to disintegrate the autonomy of women that they claim to protect. The grossly presumptuous idea is to claim that women, here, Hindu women, are gullible beings who cannot decide who to love and eventually, marry, on their own.

Article 25 of the Constitution provides for freedom to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality, and health.

Then why are two consenting adults answerable to the State? Why did Muslim convert Hadiya have to stand in front of the Court and explain how she chose to love a Muslim man? And, why is it anyone’s business?

The idea of Ambedkar’s India is still an implausible project. The very concept of “Unity in Diversity” implodes a little every day, right in our faces. Inter-caste and inter-faith marriages, the prescribed remedy to sue the society together in threads of harmony and union is, yet again, being veiled by the saffron rag of hatred.

Sania Javed is a student of Economics and a freelance writer based in New Delhi.