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PoliticsIndiaLove jihad debate rages in Karnataka following Isis girl's arrest

Love jihad debate rages in Karnataka following Isis girl’s arrest

Leaders of the BJP, who have got the Anti-Conversion Bill passed in the Karnataka assembly, cite many examples of love jihad while Muslims and leftists deny it

The arrest of Deepthi Marla alias Mariyum on charges of alleged links with Isis by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) last week in Dakshina Kannada of Karnataka has sparked a debate on love jihad — a scourge media denies exists — in the state. Hindu organisations have planned special campaigns and programmes in coastal Karnataka through retired police officers, religious leaders and advocates among others in educational institutions and other places to create awareness about love jihad, the term signifying the act of waylaying a Hindu woman by a Muslim man for marriage or sexual exploitation.

A large section of Hindus in Karnataka are convinced this is an Islamic plan. Every day, they get calls from the parents of girls and young adult women who have been abducted or traced at a time when they had been turned Muslim.

They say they have formed groups to prevent Hindu girls and young women from falling prey to love jihad while students are trained to observe closely in academic institutions for suspicious movements on the campus.

While leaders of the ruling BJP have already got the Anti-Conversion Bill passed in the Karnataka assembly, state Congress President DK Shivakumar has rubbished the conspiracy, saying that all legislation brought by the BJP “targeting minorities” will be thrown into the dustbin after his party comes back to power.

But the incident Deepthi Marla has turned popular opinion about love jihad in favour of the BJP. A Hindu girl from Kodagu who married Anas Abdul Rahman after purportedly falling in love with him while studying for BDS, Marla converted to Islam and changed her name to Mariyum.

Anas is the grandson of late Congress three-time MLA BM Idinabba. Subsequently, Mariyum is alleged to have come in contact with a wing of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis). She has allegedly recruited people locally for Isis too.

The incident has shocked the people of the state especially in the communally sensitive coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Uttara Kannada. Hindutva forces that have been protesting against love jihad claim that Marla-turned-Mariyum’s case is an example of the scourge and it shows how Hindu women are entrapped, married off, converted to Islam and then used against the Hindu community and nation.

Self-styled progressive thinkers, in contrast, dub love jihad as a conspiracy theory floated by Hindutva forces and allege that the NIA has been getting instructions from Nagpur (RSS headquarters) to execute the Hindutva agenda and target the minorities, notwithstanding the recent efforts by the Sangh to turn ‘secular’, claiming that the Hindus and Muslims of India descend from the same DNA, as Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat had infamously said in 2021.

Senior Counsel S Balan says, “Love jihad is a phrase coined by right-wing elements after instructions from Nagpur and that venom is spewed all over India including the security forces, police forces, NIA, everywhere. They have also coined it like another phrase ‘Urban Naxals’. It is a bogus word created by right-wing elements.” This, of course, defies the history that the coinage comes from the Christians of Kerala who had levelled a similar charge on Muslims of their state in the period 2005-10.

“Love jihad per se is punishable under Section 153 A of the IPC for creating a rift between two communities. It is per se an offence under Section 295 of IPC. This is a language to question the integrity, sovereignty and security of the state. It challenges the basic structure of the constitution. How is love jihad defined? A woman and man can love and marry. It is their right. Who has got any right to declare that it is Love Jihad?” Balan asks.

The woke lawyer says the NIA stands for ‘National Inhuman Agency’. “I am seeing certain cases also. It is a predictive policing algorithm. The moment something happens, the is predicted, the culprit is predicted, the ideology is predicted, the organisation is predicted… The moment ‘love jihad’ is mentioned, it is predicted that the offenders are Muslims and the victims are Hindus. Many religions preach violence. Even the Hindu religion, if you take the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, talks of war. Like that, every is violent. Christianity is violent; Judaism is violent; Parsi religion is violent. How and why do you brand one person?” he asks.

Pramod Muthalik, the Founder of Sri Ram Sena, claims on the other hand that the term “love jihad” was coined by him in 2009. “I have written my first book on the subject. In the period of 15 to 20 years as many as 3,000 Hindu girls who have gone away with Muslims have been traced and brought back. They were married back to Hindus. This is happening. Now, the issue is being discussed all over the country. Many states have brought legislation in this regard. The matter has also reached the Supreme Court.”

“Kerala is a big centre of love jihad. Four years ago, 4,000 girls are targeted through love jihad. Government documents say that among these, 3,000 are Christian girls. Love jihad is a reality. This is done to increase population and misuse Hindu girls and women. They get married and leave them after having children. They would be pushed into brothels and sold in Arab nations. They will also use them for terrorist activities,” Muthalik claims.

“Our activists have struggled a lot to bring back Hindu girls. They have managed to bring out Hindu girls who were held hostage in mosques. The activists have faced assaults and gone to jail. Till date, we get five to six phone calls every day from people about their daughter absconding. This is happening. We have formed squads in all the colleges and they keep a vigil,” Muthalik says.

Afsar Kodlipet, the state secretary of the Social Democratic Party of India, echoes the sentiment of Balan. He says that the concept of love jihad is a figment of someone’s imagination and a conspiracy theory by the Sangh Parivar to target minorities.

“In 2009, NIA came to Karnataka to investigate the alleged rape, murder of 37 women. It was alleged that Hindu women were used sexually and converted forcefully to another as part of love jihad. After a detailed investigation the NIA uncovered the role of Cyanide Mohan, a psycho serial killer, behind the death of 27 women. He targeted Dalit women and girls and after exploiting them, fearing exposure he killed them. Later, it came to light that there is no Love Jihad in all the cases,” he said.

“The issue was raised in the parliament in 2009-10. The then government at the Centre gave a written answer that there is not a single case of love jihad in the country. In Karnataka BJP MLC Ravikumar raised the issue in the legislative council when BS Yediyurappa was the chief minister. Then Social Welfare Minister Govind Karajol explained in the house that there was not a single case of forceful conversion in connection with love jihad allegations,” Kodlipet stated.

TS Chandrashekar, the international affairs analyst affiliated with the BJP, says love jihad is a reality. “In Kerala, the fundamentalist elements will gather inputs on girls who are single daughters and rich. They think if they trap these girls, they would also get resources. Uneducated, poor girls are not targeted. Only, working, educated women are being trapped in love and later brainwashed.”

Sharan Pumpwell, the zone secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Dakshina Kannada, claimed that for 15 years, the cases of love jihad are constantly increased. Every day, such cases are reported in the coastal Karnataka region. Hindu girls are brainwashed and even become victims of sex jihad. In Kerala, they are targeting Catholic Christian girls.

“We are launching a campaign on 17 January. Seminars are being conducted in colleges and religious leaders, caste leaders, retired police officers, advocates are involved in the campaign to create awareness among people about Love Jihad,” he stated.

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