Love Jihad A Myth Or A Mission?
Talking of Love Jihad, raising many an eyebrow is believed to be an organisation of Muslim boys enticing Hindu girls into marrying them and then forcing these girls into flesh trade and other tortures. Some startling facts, based on the statistics of the Crime Record Bureau of Kerala Police, Kochi’s National University of Advanced Legal Studies carried out a study in which it was found that the number of girls missing from Kerala was 2167 in 2007 and 2530 in 2008. The police or other investigative agencies have no information regarding nearly 600 out of these girls. However, the dispute has reached an impasse as nothing concrete has come to the surface.
As it is said that Jihadi Romeos promise to marry young girls, they convert them to Islam and dump these girls in the conversion centres. These Romeos then go for their next prey. These girls are subject to various cruelties and oppression for weeks in these conversion centres. There is information that these girls are shipped to the Gulf countries after drugging them, under the false pretence of a job, and then they’re forced into prostitution.
The statistics of the Jihadi conversion in Kerala since 2006 have been shocking. The number goes up as high as 2876. Cases were registered in only 705 of such incidents. Kasargode tops the list of such conversions with a figure of 568. Only 123 incidents have been registered with the police.
Central investigation agencies have received information that 4000 such girls all over India, who have been converted under this so-called Jihad, are being trained for Jihadi activities by Pakistan-based terrorist organisations.
Big money meets small brains
Money corrupts even the best, sane and sensible heads. In this Jihad, girls can be befriended rather too easily by moneyed boys. Besides, the Jihadi Romeos are suspected of being given special ranks, rewards, and money for carrying out their operation of tempting and trapping more and more girls into this. Jahangir Razak, a former student of Kozhikode Law College, is said to have enticed 42 girls. He is reportedly the link between a sex racket running in Chennai and terrorist organisations. One Shajahan from Pathanamthitta has trapped six young girls from Malayalappuzha Panchayat itself. How far it’s true is again a matter of investigation.
No organised group for love jihad
Love Jihad is an alleged activity under which some young Muslim boys and men reportedly target college girls belonging to non-Muslim communities for conversion to Islam by feigning love. While similar activities have been reported elsewhere, the term has been used to describe the activity in India. The allegations have raised concerns in various Hindu and Christian organisations, while Muslim organisations in Kerala have denied that these are true. Officials in India have taken concerns seriously and investigations were launched in 2009 in Kerala and Karnataka, but to date no organised activity of the sort has been confirmed in those investigations.
Love Jihad was alleged in Kerala and Mangalore in the coastal Karnataka region. According to Kerala Catholic Bishops Council, up to 4,500 girls in Kerala have been targeted, whereas Hindu Janajagruti Samiti claimed that 30,000 girls have been converted in Karnataka alone. Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana general secretary Vellapally Natesan said that there had been reports in Narayaneeya communities of “Love Jihad” attempts. The practice is said to be popular on college campuses.
Yet no confirmed reports of a foreign-funded network of groups encouraging conversion through the subterfuge have come to the surface. No organisation conducting such campaigns have been confirmed and no evidence has been located yet to support the foreign financial aid.
Conversion and no conversion
In late 2009, the Karnataka CID (Criminal Investigation Department) reported that although it was continuing to investigate, it had found no evidence that Love Jihad existed. In late 2009, Director-General of Police Jacob Punnoose reported that although the investigation would continue, there was no evidence of any organisation using men “feigning love” to lure women into converting them to Islam.
However, on December 9, 2009, Justice KT Sankaran of the Kerala High Court weighed in on the matter while hearing bail for the Muslim youth arrested for allegedly forcibly converting the two campus girls. According to The Indian Express, his conclusion that “such incidents under the pretext of love were rampant in certain parts of the state” ran contrary to central and state governments reports. In early 2010, the state government reported to the Karnataka High Court that although a large number of young Hindu women had converted to Islam, there was no organised attempt to convince them to do so. A petition was also put before Sankaran to prevent the use of the terms “Love Jihad” and “Romeo Jehad”, but Sankaran declined to overrule an earlier decision not to restrain media usage. Subsequently, however, the High Court stayed further police investigation, both because no organised efforts had been disclosed by police probes and because the investigation was specifically targeted against a single community.
In July 2010, the “Love Jihad” controversy resurfaced in the press when Kerala Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan referred to the alleged matrimonial conversion of non-Muslim girls as part of an effort “to make Kerala a Muslim-majority state”. The Popular Front of India dismissed his statements due to the findings of the Kerala state probe, but the president of the BJP Mahila Morcha called for an NIA investigation, alleging that the Kerala state probe was closed prematurely due to a “tacit understanding with the Popular Front of India”. The Kerala Congress responded strongly to the Chief Minister’s comments, which they described as “deplorable and dangerous”. Ironically, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Christian groups have both agreed in one voice to fight against this malady. Both Hindu and Christian girls are falling prey to the design. So the Christians are cooperating with the VHP in tackling this menace and working together to whatever extent possible. Apparently, the VHP has started a ‘Hindu Helpline’, and it claims to have received as many as 1,500 calls in last three months.
Kerala high court wants probe
It says that a litany of complaints is pouring in this very connection against the backdrop of girls missing everyday. Taking cognizance of the whole episode, the state High Court has asked the Police and Union Home Ministry to probe the alleged movement, under which young Muslim boys reportedly target college girls for conversion by feigning love. The Court also asked the state and Centre to probe the sources that fund the syndicate and also the number of girls who have fallen prey to the racket in the past three years and its extremist links, if any.
Justice KT Sankaran was hearing anticipatory bail applications of two Muslim youths, accused of “luring” two MBA students into marriage for reported purpose of religious conversion. The court rejected their bail pleas. The two youths were allegedly associated with Campus Front, a student outfit of the right-wing Muslim organisation Popular Front of India (PFI).
Some girls students, originally residents of Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram, had been studying in a college in Pathanamthitta. According to them, one of them fell in love with a senior and eloped to marry him. This senior allegedly handed over the other girl to his friend. The girls told the court that they were taken to a centre in Malappuram where they were given literature and shown visuals promoting religious extremism.
By Syed Wazid Ali