Love jihad is least talked about in the mainstream discourse. Does the country want to turn a blind eye to the issue? Many in the educated urban class believe love is above religion and one must not question it. Of course, love cannot be questioned. It knows no boundaries of caste, religion or age. However, in love, if one wants the other to change his or her religion, why shouldn’t it be questioned? If religion plays a role in one’s ‘love’, why can’t the genuineness and sanctity of such an affair be questioned? Is, in love, the co-existence of two different religions not possible?

The case of national shooter Tara Sahadev is an eye-opener for society. What makes this case unique is that here, unlike in other cases, the girl didn’t fall in love with a Muslim boy. In fact, she did not fall in love at all. And that reduces this case from ‘love jihad’ to pure jihad—the sense in which Muslim fanatics use it. As per the charge sheet filed in the case, Tara did not know Hasan — who masqueraded as a certain Ranjeet Kumar Kohli — before marriage. To impress her and convince her for marriage, Hasan used to frequent the shooting range with officers in expensive cars and help the women practicing the sport in the arena. The family members were involved and they, like in any other case of arranged marriage, checked the background of ‘Kohli’, met his family members and did whatever they could to secure their daughter’s future. And that’s where the planning of Hasan alias Kohli was shockingly perfect.

It seems his intention was very clear and loaded with malice. He wanted to pose as a Hindu to marry a Hindu girl and later convert her to Islam. If love jihad wasn’t a reality, what could have motivated Hasan for such a sinister plan? What makes his stratagem more fearful is that, unlike the older times, most arranged marriages now are happening between people whose families are not known to each other or there is no common connection. Many families now rely upon social networking sites and matrimonial websites for searching the suitable partner for their daughter/son. In this scenario, there is all the risk that such instances of ‘love/marriage jihad’ may increase.

This isn’t the first case of love jihad, but it must definitely raise an alarm. Recently, 2 youths were arrested in Rajasthan on the charges of manipulating a minor girl, making an obscene video of hers, and later forcing her to convert to Islam. They had threatened the girl that they would publish and broadcast the video clip if she refused to embrace Islam.
In another case, a girl from Nashik alleged torture by her husband and parents-in-law to convert her to Islam.

“I was preparing to join the Home Guards and he was working there as a fitness instructor. I came to know that he was a Muslim when I reached his home in Sultanpur after our marriage 3 months ago. He tortured me to forcibly convert (me) to Islam. My in-laws (sic) used to switch on a huge air cooler so that outsiders were unable to hear my wails,”

she told the police.

In yet another case, a woman from Cooch Behar in West Bengal alleged that her husband Mohammad Umardaraz and her parents-in-law used to torture her whenever she did not observe namaz (salah).

“We fell in love and I didn’t reveal to my parents that he was a Muslim. We got married as per Hindu rituals. We left Cooch Behar 2 months ago and started living in Ghaziabad’s Sahibabad area. He and his parents forced me to accept Islam. But it did not end there… They used to torture me and force me to offer namaz,”

she alleged.

There are many such cases and, surely, many go unregistered.

The question is not about saving Hinduism or any other religion. It is about protecting our women from such manipulation and mindless torture in the name of religion. It is every Indian’s fundamental right to practice any religion of his or her choice. The question is whether we can allow this right to be snatched from an innocent woman only because she fell in love with a wrong person. Love Jihad is a reality; it demands an urgent attention of the majority before it’s too late.