Trained by their community in the art of seduction, Muslim boys are trapping Hindu girls en masse, in order to convert them to Islam. That’s the theory of ‘love jehad’.
Don’t laugh. This is one of the factors behind the killing of 47 Hindus and Muslims in Muzaffarnagar. So effective has the propagation of this theory been that in 2009, the Karnataka and Kerala high courts asked the police to investigate the phenomenon. The police dutifully did so, and reported that there was no organization training Muslim boys on how to entrap Hindu girls. The girls were just eloping, because they were scared of their parents’ reaction to their Muslim boyfriends.
In Muzaffarnagar, no police investigation was deemed necessary. Frequent “eve-teasing’’ was enough for the propaganda to take hold. The local VHP president could give only one instance of a Hindu girl eloping with a Muslim, but, he told NDTV with satisfaction, the fear of ‘love jehad’ had brought many Jats to their organisation. The Jat mahapanchayat of September 7, which became the turning point of the violence, was held on the theme of “Beti Bachao, Bahu Bachao’’.
Visiting Muzaffarnagar, CPM leader Subhashini Ali found that ‘eve-teasing’ by both Hindu and Muslim boys was a real problem. Last month, a Jat had teased a Muslim girl. Her father had slapped the culprit, who killed the father on Eid. The boy had been arrested.
The Muzaffarnagar violence is being traced to a similar eve-teasing incident, wherein a Muslim reportedly teased a Hindu girl. Her brothers killed him and were in turn killed by the boy’s villagers. But the girl in question has clarified that there had been no such incident; she had never seen the boy. The FIR of the incident makes no mention of eve-teasing. Significantly, one of the factors behind the first-ever Hindu-Muslim riot in Faizabad last year, was the rumour, never substantiated, that Muslims had teased a Hindu girl.
In 21st century India, the fear of seduction of “their’’ women continues to whip up murderous rage among men. Women are still considered the community’s property, and the repository of its “honour’’. Hence the constant efforts to control them. Yet, because it is the 21st century, girls are increasingly making their own choices. The more daring cross the Laxman Rekha of religion, intolerable for any community. For the RSS, which actually believes in the “love jehad’’ conspiracy, it becomes easy to use it to turn an entire community against the projected predator. In Godhra, Muslim leaders now “return’’ Hindu girls who’ve eloped with Muslims.
Interestingly, last year, PMK chief S Ramadoss, alarmed at increasing inter-caste marriages in Tamil Nadu, alleged that Dalit boys wore “jeans, T-shirts and fancy sunglasses’’ to entrap girls from other communities. The theory of “love jehad’’ assumes that Hindu girls are gullible. Why doesn’t the RSS or Ramadoss train Hindu boys to seduce them? A Gujarat Durga Vahini leader told me that Hindu boys tread the straight and narrow because (unlike Muslim boys), they are often the only sons who have to inherit the family business. Surely the RSS can spare some of its Bajrang Dal heroes? Or is the prospect of “their’’ girls falling in love, even with good Hindu boys, too frightful?
The Muslim spokesmen of the BJP, Shahnawaz Hussain and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, have Hindu wives. Are they “love jehadis’’? Finally, how does the RSS explain the regular instances of rape of Muslim women by its followers in communal riots: Mumbai 1992-93, Malegaon 2001, Gujarat 2002?
The author is a Mumbai-based freelance journalist