Image: Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint
In their preparation to terrorise couples on February 14 celebrated as Valentine’s Day, right wing groups were seen getting some sticks ready to use as weapons to harass these couples. This practice of moral policing and deeming Valentine’s Day as an influence of western culture and subversion of Indian ‘Sanskriti’ (culture), has been widely deprecated.
The Shivsena in Madhya Pradesh were making preps by oiling sticks so that they could beat up couples found hanging around on Valentine’s Day
Hindu supremacists in MP, India, are preparing their sticks to beat up those who dare to celebrate Valentine’s Day! Hug the Cow but not Human? pic.twitter.com/4xaQDb5ZfI
— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) February 13, 2023
However, should that deter you from celebrating this day of love or just generally celebrating your love for anyone, from any caste, religion, race, ethnicity, gender? The answer is an absolute no and of course everybody knows that the Constitution does not put any kind of restrictions on one’s freedom to love. So here’s a little reminder that no matter what they try to feed you with ‘Love jihad’ or comments discrediting LGBTQIA+ community, the Constitution is here to protect you.
Article 14: The Constitution provides equality before law for all individuals within India. Without going into the technicality of these words, it basically means all laws are applicable to all persons equally and they will be protected equally by the law of the land
Article 15: Prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth
Article 19: All citizens have the right to freedom of speech and expression
Article 21: probably the most important and most widely interpreted right in the Constitution is the right to life and life with dignity.
Dr. BR Ambedkar famously wrote in his widely read book, ‘Annihilation of caste’:
“…The real remedy [against untouchability] is inter-marriage. Fusion of blood can alone create the feeling of being kith and kin, and unless this feeling of kinship, of being kindred, becomes paramount, the separatist feeling—the feeling of being aliens—created by Caste will not vanish…Where society is already well-knit by other ties, marriage is an ordinary incident of life. But where society is cut asunder, marriage as a binding force becomes a matter of urgent necessity.”
While he wrote in support of intercaste marriages, the philosophy is equally applicable to inter faith marriages too!
The courts of law have been instrumental in interpreting these rights bestowed upon the Constitution for the people and from these interpretations, have emerged such iterations that need to be reiterated on this day when people like to celebrate love.
In September 2018 when the Supreme Court decriminalized section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, paving way for decriminalizing gay sex and upholding freedom to love, irrespective of the gender, thus upholding Article 15 and Article 21, among other rights. The country witnessed utter jubilation when this judgment was pronounced. A petition for legalizing same sex marriage is pending before the Supreme Court and one can be hopeful that CJI DY Chandrachud who was a part of the bench that decriminalized section 377 will once again bring in a new era of loving freely and equality, by legalizing same sex marriages.
In April 2018, when the Supreme Court upheld freedom of religion as well as right to love as they wish, while upholding marriage of Hadiya to a Muslim man as her father had dragged her to court for converting to Islam and then marrying a Muslim man.Hadiya had converted to Islam of her own accord and had thereafter fallen in love with a Muslim man but Hadiya unwarrantedly became the face of ‘love jihad’. She fought on as Kerala High Court annulled her marriage when finally the Supreme Court upheld, among other things, one’s right to love which the court said was a ‘central aspect of identity’.
“The right to marry a person of one’s choice is integral to Article 21 of the Constitution. The Constitution guarantees the right to life… Intrinsic to the liberty which the Constitution guarantees as a fundamental right is the ability of each individual to take decisions on matters central to the pursuit of happiness.”
The court even interpreted the right to life as liberty to pursue happiness!
“Intrinsic to the liberty which the Constitution guarantees as a fundamental right is the ability of each individual to take decisions on matters central to the pursuit of happiness… Nothing can be as destructive of freedom and liberty. Fear silences freedom.”
In February 2021, the Supreme Court upheld the right to marry a person of choice as a fragment of Article 21 and observed that perhaps intermarriage was the way forward so that caste and community tensions may reduce. The court also reiterated that “the consent of the family or the community or the clan is not necessary once the two adult individuals agree to enter into a wedlock and that their consent has to be piously given primacy.”
The bench comprising Justices SK Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy held that “Intimacies of marriage lie within a core zone of privacy, which is inviolable and even matters of faith would have the least effect on them”
In October 2022, the Delhi High Court observed that freedom of choice in marriage is an intrinsic part of personal liberty and questions of faith have no bearing on the freedom to choose a life partner.
Two years ago, Citizens for Justice and Peace held a day long webinar on Valentine’s Day in 2021 which was hosted by Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mewani where he said, “These laws (anti-conversion laws) suggest upper-caste people are the sole arbitrators of everything. These laws validate Brahmanical patriarchy by controlling the sexual freedoms of women. These “Love Jihad” laws are turning India into a ‘Romeo Squad-driven’ country. People who marry inter-caste or inter-faith have contributed greatly to India’s progress. We should celebrate love”.
There is no such thing as Love Jihad
The coinage of the term gained national prominence in 2009 and its origins can be traced back to Kerala and the coastal belt of Karnataka. According to the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council, by October 2009, up to 4,500 girls in Kerala had been targeted, whereas Hindu Janajagruti Samiti claimed that 30,000 girls had been converted in Karnataka alone.
On June 25, 2014, then Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy informed the state legislature that 2,667 young women had converted to Islam in the state since 2006. However, he stated that there was no evidence for any of them being forced conversions, and that fears of ‘love jihad’ were “baseless.”
“The narrative of Love Jihad seeks to popularize the myth of Hindu culture as under siege, Hindu women as vulnerable, and justify the Hindu male as the protector-aggressor,” says Angana Chatterji of the Centre for Race and Gender at the University of California, Berkeley.
‘Love Jihad’ is a conspiracy theory of the right-wing, which claims that Muslim men feign love to non-Muslim, especially Hindu women to induce them to convert to Islam with an intention to increase their population. However, what is pertinent is that no official agency has come forward with a definition or any data to substantiate the claims.
And hence, there is no such thing as ‘Love jihad’ because love is love is love. So love all and love freely, because the Constitution says so.