A queer new term is churning up the politics of Uttar Pradesh into a tidal wave of allegations and recrimination between the major political rivals.
It is also threatening to disturb communal harmony and unleash a wave of communal violence throughout the state if the self-seeking 'netas' do not stop harping on the new-fangled phenomenon for their petty gains soon. The BJP says it's spreading like hay fever while the ruling Samajwadi Party says it can't stop this feeling anymore.
"Love Jihad", the latest – and indeed one of the most unlikely – entrant into the UP politicians' lingo promises to destroy amity between the two communities. "The government has done nothing so far to gauge the sharply rising communal tensions over this new phenomenon. Once it gets out of hand, it could be devastating for law and order," warns a senior police official in a rather somber tone.
"Love Jihad" is the term given by the BJP and its associated organizations to Hindu girls allegedly being enticed by Muslim boys only to convert them to Islam. The saffron brigade alleges that Muslim boys slolemnise a 'nikah' with these girls, and that this is nothing but just a sham to ensure conversion of Hindu girls. They also allege that there is no sanctity of this 'nikah' as one Muslim boy is being married to several Hindu girls.
The BJP took up the issue with great gusto at the party's state convention at Mathura on Saturday, with UP unit chief LK Bajpayee crying himself hoarse that "love jehad" is a threat to the entire country, and that it would be part of the resolution to be adopted at the end of the meet. But, within 24 hours, the party seemed to have developed cold feet in view of all-round criticism, and even top leaders like Rajnath Singh distancing themselves from the controversy. "We are discussing the safety and security of women here and this will be a part of the resolution to be adopted," said a rather sheepish Bajpayee when grilled by reporters on Sunday over his fiery "love jihad" spiel just a day earlier.
Recently, riots broke out in Moradabad after local BJP leaders worked up a frenzy over a missing Hindu girl, alleging she had been gang raped and kidnapped by a Muslim boy and his relatives as part of the "love jehad" plot. Later, on being found in Delhi, she told police she had had a 'nikah' with Kaleem voluntarily. Police also revealed that she had undergone an abortion at a Meerut hospital.
In another case in Faizabad, a Hindu girl was found dead and her Muslim paramour was named in the case. The BJP brigade was quick to give a "love jihad" spin to this case, too, and violence broke out in Faizabad, a rather sensitive district due to Ayodhya being in the vicinity. Timely action by the district administration saved the situation from snowballing into a full-fledged communal riot.
"There have been many such incidents, especially in west UP, of late where certain elements have been deliberately been blowing up small and petty disputes," UP chief secretary Alok Ranjan told dna. "In many places, they have instigated violence and arson. We are identifying these people who are clearly part of a conspiracy. We have also directed our district officers to respond swiftly to such situations and nip the trouble in the bud," he added.
With more than 600 instances of communal tension since June this year, and over 200 incidents of communal violence each in 2012 and 2013, the Akhilesh regime surely has much to worry about than just love and politics.
What UP leaders said
You ask them (BJP) what is the effect of the songs that their MP (Hema Malini) sings in films like 'Dharmatma', the one who is from the place (Mathura) where their meeting is going on. Does it increase love or decrease it?" (The song he was referring to is "Tere chehre mein wo jaadu hai") - Akhilesh Yadav, Uttar Pradesh chief minister
First of all, I want to know where did they (BJ) get this term (love jihad) from. Is it from Pakistan, Afghanistan or from the ISIS in Iraq? After all, the government cannot stop grown-up boys and girls from falling into love. In fact, no one has the right to do this — Naresh Agarwal, SP leader
Tension in UP district after group clash
Tension erupted in Alipur Khera town in Bhogaon area of the district on Sunday when members of two communities clashed and set some shops on fire, police said. Superintendent of police (SP) Srikant Singh said tension started after a girl and a boy belonging to two communities were allegedly found in a compromising situation in a shop.
Some local residents, however, claimed that the girl was dragged inside the shop and raped while she had gone there for mobile recharge.
As the news spread, a mob assembled and set the shop and some other kisoks on fire. The SP, district magistrate and the sub-divisional magistrate, along with a large posse of police personnel, rushed to the site to control the situation, but the agitated mob pelted bricks and stones at their vehicles and tried to set them ablaze.
The SDM's vehicle was damaged and a station officer was injured in stone pelting. District Magistrate Govindraju NS said that the SDM's vehicle was damaged and he, along with the SP, are on the spot and monitoring the situation.