PUCL condemns ‘love jihad’, communalization of Anjali-Ibrahim marriage

Calls for prompt investigation against attack on couple’s lawyers

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Image Courtesy: deccanchronicle.com

The Chhattisgarh Unit of People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) has strongly condemned the efforts by communal groups to communalize interreligious marriages as ‘love jihad’ while pledging support to unions between two consenting adults irrespective of their class, caste, race, religion, nationality or sexuality.

Taking cognizance of the current controversy around the marriage of Anjali Jain with Ibrahim Siddiqui who converted to Aryan Arya, PUCL is alarmed to note the persecution faced by Anjali for exercising her freedom to choose her partner; and also the violence meted out to her lawyers Priyanka Shukla and MoinuddinQuraishi, for helping her in the exercise of her rights.

Ibrahim and Anjali got legally married in February 2018. At the time, Ibrahim was already married, but estranged from his wife whom he subsequently divorced. He later converted to Hinduism, for he had anticipated trouble and wanted to quell all allegations of ‘love jihad’.

Peddled by Hindutva groups, ‘love jihad’ has long been used to falsely claim that young Muslim men have been systematically seducing impressionable Hindu women with a view to converting them to Islam.

Ibrahim, now Aryan Arya, married his bride secretly in the Arya Samaj tradition and obtained their marriage certificate from Raipur. Once the details of their marriage went public, Anjali’s father who was hitherto unaware of the union, immediately separated the two and allegedly beat up his daughter and gave her medicines which caused epileptic seizures.

She was also taken away to unknown locations to be kept away from Ibrahim, but a habeas corpus petition in the Bilaspur High Court filed by him saw her being found by the police and produced in court. There, she accepted that she had married Ibrahim of her own free will as an adult and wanted to live life with him. She wanted to go back to her husband, but the court sent her away to a women’s hostel in Bilaspur. Communal organizations said that the court had given her an option to stay with her parents but she denied it because she was under a ‘mysterious spell’ and mentally unstable.

The Jain Samaj took out rallies and marches and even held a Chhattisgarh bandh in protest of this union that they branded as ‘love jihad’.
Later, on a First Information Report (FIR) lodged by her father, Ibrahim was arrested on charges of conning Anjali.

The couple stands separated to this date.

Priyanka Shukla, Ibrahim’s lawyer, who tried to meet with Anjali at the hostel, was chased away by DSP Mamta Sharma and additional SP Richa Mishra. Shukla was manhandled and Anjali was threatned by the police duo. Shukla lodged a complaint against the officers at the city Kotwali and planned to raise the issue with the Bar Council.

PUCL questioned the presence of Mishra at the hostel and why she and her colleague prevented her from meeting her lawyers, apart from women’s rights activists Swati Manav and Kumud. It had come to light that the police also allowed people from various religious organizations to meet her against her will, who tried to pressure her into leaving Ibrahim, albeit unsuccessfully.

This is not the first incident in the country where interreligious married couples have been accused of ‘love jihad’.

Recently, the case of Sakshi Mishra, the daughter of a BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh surfaced, where she claimed that she was being terrorized for marrying a man of a lower caste.   In the case of the daughter of a former MLA SurendraNath Singh from Bhopal, who wanted to marry a man from a different community, the father claimed that she was mentally disturbed and blamed the Muslim Congress MLA for encouraging “love jihad”. In Mhow (Madhya Pradesh) last year, a 27 year-old Hindu woman was pressured into breaking her marriage with a Muslim man by her parents and their lawyers in a meeting in the chambers of a High Court Judge, because her marriage would create “a law and order issue” in the area.

Chhattisgarh, with its nexus of powerful political families, has especially been a hotbed of such incidents.

In context of the current case, PUCL Chhattisgarh makes the following demands-

1. While Anjali stays in the Sakhi Center Raipur awaiting further court orders, she should be allowed to meet anyone she chooses.
2. Taking the threats against Anjali and Ibrahim seriously, the couple should be provided complete security.
3. The physical attack against Advocate Priyanka Shukla and MoinuddinQuraishi should be promptly investigated, and departmental inquiry against Durg district Radio SP Richa Mishra should be immediately initiated.

These barbaric incidents, barbaric because they violate the basic freedoms of love and expression, are a mirror to what the government plans to make ‘new India’ look like. Fascist, communal, right-wing, Hindutva organizations have consistently been spreading bigotry and hatred between communities. The casteist patriarchy that threatens the well-being of two mature, consenting individuals in love, is what is threating the social fabric of our country.

PUCL vehemently dissents against this false narrative of love and we at Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) stand with it to vehemently dispel the same.

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