Panchjanya weekly, the Hindi mouthpiece of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has had to delete a post of theirs after the Moradabad Police threatened them with legal action for spreading fake news. The now deleted post, which had been viewed by atleast 55,000 people, aimed to cause disharmony, and spread misleading and propaganda filled news regarding an inter faith couple. The tweet claimed that a Hindu girl had to suffer the consequences of marrying a Muslim man as the said man raped the Hindu wife along with his friends. It was also alleged that 15 individuals have been booked in this case.
As the tweet began gaining online traction, with more than 1,200 retweets, and a number of right wing handles began spreading the lie, the Moradabad Police swung into action and debunked the claim. The Moradabad police replied to the said tweet and stated that “आपके द्वारा किये गये ट्वीट के सम्बन्ध में अवगत कराना है कि जनपद मुरादाबाद में इस तरह की कोई भी घटना नहीं हुई है । बिना जानकारी के अनावश्यक ट्वीट न करें । भ्रामकता फैलाने पर आपके विरुद्ध वैधानिक कार्यवाही की जायेगी। (In relation to your tweet, it is to be informed that no such incident has taken place in Moradabad district. Do not tweet unnecessarily without information. Legal action will be taken against you for spreading misleading information.)”
Post this tweet by the Moradabad police, the false tweet by the Panchjanya was deleted. This was an important and necessary move to re-establish the false narrative being spread by the far-right functionaries of the Bharatiya Janata Party and its extremist Hindutva outfits, where it is alleged that Muslim men lure Hindu women for conversion to Islam by unethical means such as seduction, kidnapping, feigning, deception, and ultimately marriage as a part of a broader ‘war’ by Muslims against India and Hindus.
The media also plays a vital role in spreading this conspiracy to every house possible, something that can be witnessed upon tuning in to any of the major news channels operating in our country. Almost every channel has or regularly shows content based upon this topic and is very much responsible for directly manipulating people by the means of fake and distorted information. This action by the Moradabad Police also comes as a surprise, because according to the pattern being followed, even the police under BJP governed states user fear and intimidation against couples, even those who have had consensual marriages and subjugate young Muslim men by fake charges and FIRs based on a façade, as we have already seen on multiple occasions after the administration of this law in states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Even if we dismiss the narrative of the Love-Jihad conspiracy as yet another improbable hoax and a mere distraction based on the sensitive issue of faith and marriage, every small piece of false news that feeds into the propaganda is detrimental to our country’s harmony in the long run. Once dismissed as a fanciful conspiracy theory born of Hindu right-wing fantasies and nationalistic chauvinism, the so-called love jihad is now being weaponized by Hindutva outfits for the dispensation to target interfaith marriages in the country. It is important to remember that the BJP has used this ‘Love-Jihad’ rhetoric to their advantage, particularly to strengthen the roots of conservatism and hatred.
It is further important to note that this is not the first time that the Police has had to debunk Panchjanya’s communally dangerous claims. In the year 2021, Hitesh Shankar, the Editor of Panchjanya weekly, had shared fake news from a locality in Delhi, claiming that a temple in Noor Nagar, which according to him is a “Muslim-majority” neighbourhood, was being “demolished” and the debris was being cleared to wipe away “evidence.” He also demanded that “those who demolished the temple will have to build the temple there!”
Delhi Police had then swung into action and debunked the claim. RP Meena, Deputy Commissioner of Police South East Delhi, had said, “Local Police visited the spot to verify the contents of the tweet. The property belongs to a member of the Hindu Community who himself was dismantling/clearing the built up area adjacent to the temple in his own property. No harm to the temple has been caused and it is intact.”