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Love Jihad: A Serious Weakness of National Character

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The much-awaited Supreme Court hearing for the Hadiya case has finally concluded. The outcome was vague, and important questions remained unanswered. Instead, Hadiya aka Akhila Asokan – the Kerala girl who had converted to Islam and subsequently married a Muslim man, and who has been in her father’s custody for over a year, since the Kerala High Court annulled her marriage – was sent back to Tamil Nadu to finish her homeopathy degree course, with the college Dean being appointed as her guardian.

Everything else remains unanswered. Particularly, the report submitted by National Investigation Agency (NIA) on love jihad, as well as the order of the Kerala HC annulling Hadiya’s marriage, are matters that have been postponed by the Court for a hearing more than a month later. However, proceedings in the Court did throw up some incriminating facts that could make Hadiya’s case a compelling one of love jihad. Her husband’s tape-recorded conversations asking about the price of sending ISIS recruits could be one. It was decried as being manufactured. But then, what about Hadiya’s closeness to Sainaba – the leader of the women’s wing of the radical Muslim organization accused of love jihad viz. the Popular Front of India (PFI).

Sainaba was also incriminated clearly in the sting operation carried out by India Today, where she admitted to luring girls into conversions. Hadiya was put in touch with Sainaba and had been staying with her, before her father won custody of her. And these are just few instances that have come out in the public domain. The evidence presented in the NIA report should be culminating proof of the already well-known fact of love jihad.

Yet, Hadiya’s supporters – a certain class of self-proclaimed secular and feminist intelligentsia – have deliberately turned the argument on its head. Hadiya’s husband’s lawyers – Kapil Sibal and Indira Jaising – have been talking only about Hadiya’s freedom of choice. But, in this case, it is obvious that the woman is in a state of mental delusion, so the question of ‘consent’ does not arise. That is why the facts to be presented by the NIA in January become very important. They should be able to settle this case, once and for all. Otherwise, there is no end to vague arguments about love and consent and what not.

Obviously, love jihad will give the illusion of love and willingness on the part of the woman, since the woman is first lured – and never coerced – into the trap and then married and converted. It has been in evidence for decades and was flagged during the last CPI(M) government too, when authorities provided evidence for numerous cases of love jihad as early as 2009. But, in recent times, there is a new dimension added to it – the national security threat it poses. For, most of the love jihad couples have left for Syria and Afghanistan to join the ISIS. Recall how a Christian family made news last year for having converted and then left to join ISIS, or, how Kerala made headlines for contributing the maximum number of ISIS fighters from India.

These proofs – which are worrying the Hindus and the Christians alike in Kerala, forcing them to forge a common cause – should be enough. But the national debate on love jihad has always had the distinction of being conducted along wholly impractical lines, divorced from the assertions of the people who have been most adversely and closely affected and completely uncaring of the impact that such a phenomenon may have on bringing down our national character to a new low.

While love jihad cases since last year were connected with ISIS recruitment, ISIS is no longer a threat to India. But while the ISIS – a purely political creation resulting from competitive politics between nations – is nearly dead, what will happen to the Muslim organizations in Kerala?

Organizations like the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its political party wing, the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), besides its youth and women wings, form an elaborate network of radical Muslim organizations that have an all-India presence. ISIS and al-Qaeda were never that big a threat to India. Even now al-Qaeda’s works in Kashmir have only led to a disruption in the existing terrorist movement there and has worked to the advantage of India, with al-Qaeda being resented by Pakistani terror groups in Kashmir for causing a diversion. Organizations like ISIS are mainly confined to Gulf politics and the manipulations by Western nations trying to destroy the economic and military interests of each other. So, let us not read too much into ISIS in the Kerala case, since ISIS is now a bygone.

It is the PFI and its offshoots that are working overtime to create dents in the Hindu and the larger Indian society. That PFI has links with terror groups in Pakistan and Gulf is established by lot of evidence now, and that is something that this government is already working on.

Ever since a prominent media channel conducted a sting operation on the PFI and got the PFI’s women wing leader, Sainaba (who has been on the NIA radar since before the sting was carried out), to confirm that young girls are indeed trapped and converted through marriage, the latest evidence before us is fool-proof. And this is not the only evidence. Kerala police – including the famous remarks on radicalization on Muslims and love jihad by retired police chief, TP Senkumar – has also confirmed that love jihad is a reality, perpetrated by ‘Dawa Squad’ members who work actively to convert youth to Islam, especially the youth belonging to the Ezhava community. Of course, they denied it later – as expected – but this just shows that the long-festering love jihad issue is a reality that is only being suppressed for political purposes – particularly, to keep the dominant Muslim vote-bank in Kerala in good humour.

This politics of selfishness has made Kerala amongst the most backward states in the country, in terms of the overall mindset and approach towards national issues and even social issues like gender. By falling easy prey to the trap of Islamism, it is going further backward. One can argue that this kind of a nuisance has been confined mainly to Kerala only. But why should even one state or region be allowed to become a drag on the national progress?

An issue like love jihad – which reeks of weakness and cowardice of petty plotting by a group of irrelevant fanatics – can never pose a threat to the country’s indomitable spirit. But that is no reason to be complacent about it and let things be – as has been the approach of successive governments for the last so many years. It is good that the Modi government has gone after it ruthlessly. Being complacent about a serious blemish, being casual about the issue exposes a psychological flaw in our being as a nation.

The main threat from organizations like PFI – spreading ‘love jihad’ – is that they are a force for bringing about national division, and, of creating ghettos of psychological dirt and isolation that cannot be allowed to persist in a nation that is destined for and aspiring to resurgence. All such plots of weakness must be crushed with an iron hand. It is time for Kerala to wake up to the national need of the hour and reform its politics and society.

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