A BJP spokesperson has raised suspicion about an inter-faith marriage in Uttar Pradesh, this despite the couple’s vehement insistence that the match was consensual. Moreover, their own families have become hostile towards them.
Pinned to the top of Uttar Pradesh Spokesperson’s Salabh Mani Tripathi’s Twitter account is a tweet that paints the marriage of two consenting adults as an act of ‘love jihad.’ Posted on August 20, Tripathi’s tweet claims that Shalini, a woman from Kanpur lied about exams to go to Lucknow, converted to Islam and then married Faizal.
“The question is why did Shalini in particular have to convert her religion to Islam? Why not Faizal? That is why it is called love jihad not love jihad,” wrote Tripathi along with a video of the couple talking.
फैसल ने शालिनी यादव को इस्लाम क़ुबूल कराया,नाम बदल कर फ़िजा फ़ातिमा कराया,अब शालिनी यादव को आगे कर उनके बूढ़े पिता श्री जेसी यादव के खिलाफ बयान दिला रहा,फैसल समेत उसका परिवार ग़ायब है,शालिनी यादव के परिजनों के आरोपों पर जाँच ज़रूरी है,तभी ये साफ हो पाएगा कि ये लव जेहाद है या नहीं pic.twitter.com/ZliVpBj8mY
— Shalabh Mani Tripathi (@shalabhmani) August 23, 2020
Such questions about why one person changed their religion and the other person did not is a common argument used in discussions relating to love jihad.
However, the propogandist motive seems very apparent in this case because Shalini explicitly says in the two-minute video that she herself decided to convert to Islam without any external pressure.
Shalini and Faizal hold their marriage certificate to the camera and assure the viewers that the marriage was a consensual act by two conscientious adults. She even says that she had no support from her family who repeatedly called her and told her to leave Faizal and return home. However, she did not do so since it was her own decision to marry Faizal.
Following Tripathi’s tweet, many people described the incident as ‘love jihad’ despite the woman’s repeated insistence that she was not forcibly taken away.
— Shefali Vaidya. (@ShefVaidya) August 21, 2020
Hope the woman stays safe & happy. What I fear, having covered such cases, is that since the woman loses her family & support system, and is usually totally dependent on husband financially & socially, she becomes very vulnerable. We hv seen many such cases ending up in murders https://t.co/qrkWN7PPkh
— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) August 21, 2020
लव जिहाद समाज में करोना से भी ज्यादा फैला चुका है । इससे बचाव बस हिन्दू बेटियों के विवेक , समझ और परवरिश पर ही निर्भर करती है।
— गुड्डू पंडित (@Robinhood9554) August 20, 2020
On August 21, Tripathi also posted a video of a police officer who said that an FIR has been lodged by Shalini’s family alleging that she was kidnapped and taken away against her will.
शालिनी यादव व फैसल के कथित निकाह के प्रकरण और परिवार के लव जेहाद के आरोपों की गंभीरता को देखते हुए जाँच के आदेश हो गए हैं,सवाल यही बना हुआ है कि अगर ये सच्चा प्यार था तो शालिनी यादव को इस्लाम क्यूँ क़बूल करना पड़ा,अपना नाम क्यूँ बदलना पड़ा,कोर्ट मैरिज के साथ निकाह क्यूँ करना पड़ा https://t.co/MmUZBr2sot pic.twitter.com/GVfxprfL7D
— Shalabh Mani Tripathi (@shalabhmani) August 21, 2020
Furthermore, according to a nine-minute video posted by Aryan Warriors on Facebook, Shalini claims that her father told Fazial’s father to return her back alive or dead. The family dispute has escalated to the point where neither family supports the couple.
The couple pleaded at the end of the video to be left alone saying that they do not have any ill will against anyone.
Dubbing consensual inter-faith marriages as ‘love-jihad’ is a common tactic of communal groups to create rifts between religious communities. Last year, the Chhattisgarh unit of People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) had taken cognisance of a similar incident where the marriage of a Muslim man and Hindu woman was described as ‘love jihad’ even though it was the man who had converted his religion to Hinduism.
This in itself is odd, because ‘love jihad’ is understood as an alleged effort of Muslim men to feign love for non-Muslim women and force them to convert their religion to Islam.
So, when a right-wing proponent insists that something is ‘love jihad’ despite the explicit evidence that it is not, the discussion is at the danger of reaching the conclusion that all inter-faith unions are ‘love-jihad.’
Moreover, questioning the decisions of consenting adults not only creates an enmity between communities but also puts the concept of consent under suspicion.
In assuring us the Right to Life and Personal Liberty, the Constitution allows all individuals to decide whom they want to marry. Hate-mongering groups, who arbitrarily decide which marriages are ‘love jihad’, effectively deprive individuals of this right. This in fact is a crime in the eyes of the law, unlike ‘love-jihad’.
Our take: When cases of ‘love jihad’ start trending on mainstream media, the audience should in turn ask:
“What is love jihad?”
“Does it apply to this specific incident?”
“Irrespective of the allegations, does the Act violate Indian laws in any way?”
“Do we as a society have a right to interfere in the lives of two peace-loving adults?”
Unless we raise these questions in answer to the rising claims of ‘love jihad’, the country is under threat of facing a wide-communal divide.