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Ashok Gehlot trivialises suffering of non-Muslim women by reducing ‘love jihad’ to interfaith marriages: Here is why he is horribly wrong

Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot, demonstrated perfectly on Friday the dangers that are loaded in the term 'Love Jihad'.

The suffering of Hindu women is often ignored when it fails to serve a political narrative, for several parties like the Congress. The phenomenon of Love Jihad in India is one that has been time and again proven to be a real and present threat to Hindu women. Muslim men subjugating Hindu women, either by forcing them to convert to Islam, murdering and raping them to that end, or luring them into a relationship to serve Islam is not unheard of. There are hundreds of documented cases that prove this threat as real.

However, Congress and several of their allies have proceeded on a crusade to deny and trivialise the suffering of women. While a Nikita Tomar is murdered for refusing to convert to Islam and refusing the advances of a Muslim man and a Hindu woman is beheaded in Uttar Pradesh by her husband for refusing to convert to Islam, Congress and its allies have vehemently maintained that Love Jihad is not real and is indeed a figment of the right-wing imagination.

As several BJP ruled states have declared their intent to introduce a law against Love Jihad, the latest Congress leader to join the list of those trivialising the suffering of Hindu women is Ashok Gehlot. Gehlot went on an elaborate rant and claimed that the term was ‘manufactured’ by the BJP to ‘divide the nation’ and ‘disturb communal harmony’. “Jihad has no place in love,” he declared.

Ashok Gehlot went on to claim that the BJP was putting curbs on marriage itself and due to such laws, ‘consenting adults’ would be at the mercy of the state.

Disregarding completely what the term actually represents, Ashok Gehlot claimed that the proposal to implement a law against it will fuel ‘social conflict’ and it also apparently disregards ‘constitutional provisions’.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Rajasthan Chief Minister has carefully avoided mentioning the actual reasons which prompted state governments to bring forth a specific law for the particular brand of crimes. The crime for which a law is being proposed is not to curb inter-faith marriages, but to prevent the Jihad where Hindu women are subjugated, raped, killed and forced to convert to Islam at the pretext of marraige. In fact, that is not the only way in which non-Muslim women are made the target of Jihad. There are several other aspects and categories of crimes that we had discussed at length here.

What Ashok Gehlot is essentially doing is trivialising the suffering of Hindu women by reducing the dangerous phenomenon of Love Jihad to just ‘inter-faith’ marriages that he thinks BJP opposes.

One, of course, must concede that the term used to describe such crimes, ‘Love Jihad’, makes it very easy politicians who care more about their electoral prospects than the actual lives of people to get away by offering meaningless inanities.

When people hear the word ‘love’, people generally think about the good things in life and it is assumed, until proved otherwise, that the love being spoken of is consensual. But the cases that are clubbed under ‘love jihad’ have very little to do with love at all. It has everything to do with fraud, cheating, violence, brainwashing, grooming with the explicit intent of converting the woman to Islam.

The use of the word ‘love’ in the term describing this broad category of crimes allows politicians the opportunity to pretend that ‘Love Jihad’ refers to love between consenting adults, when it has absolutely nothing to do with love at all. Take the example of the recent case in Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh. A married Muslim doctor engaged in a relationship with a nurse and raped her for several months after promising marriage.

The doctor allegedly hid his religious identity as well as the fact that he was already married and had two sons. In the end, he put forth the condition of conversion to Islam for marriage. Now, does this look like ‘love’ from any angle? Calling this ‘Love Jihad’ gives politicians the opportunity to pretend that such crimes do not happen at all.

Then, there was the case of Pooja Patel, a resident of Varanasi who had married Mohammad Aftab Siddiqui of Lucknow. She later hanged herself to death. Pooja, tired of being forced by husband Aftab and his family to adopt Islam had chosen to end his life instead. The locals suspected that the woman was murdered by her husband’s family.

These are just two examples but there are countless cases such as these, of Hindu women being lured by Muslim men under false names. Only after the woman finds herself in a compromising position that the religion of the perpetrator is revealed, at which point an attempt is made to blackmail her into converting to Islam. Such instances are cases of grooming, not love.

As the NIA had observed in 2017, “A pattern emerges from similar cases that have been reported from Kerala. In multiple cases, the persons who play a role in approaching young girls help them in conversion, give them shelter and get them married to Muslims, appear to be common. They seem to approach young girls who appear distressed because of disagreement with parents”.

This phenomenon has great similarities with the ‘Grooming Gang’ phenomenon that is observed in western countries such as the United Kingdom where Muslims of primarily Pakistani and Bangladeshi descent made a deliberate attempt to target White girls and women. The girls are brainwashed and exploited sexually, financially and/or through other means.

Grooming gangs consisted primarily of Muslim men of Pakistani or Bangladeshi descent, who hooked their victims on drugs, primed, and sexually abused them. It also could not be ignored that the perpetrators belonged to one religion while the victims were predominantly from Sikh or White backgrounds. Attempts were made to brush the truth staring at everyone’s face under the carpet but eventually, it could not be hushed up any longer.

The grooming gang phenomenon has the most similarities with what happened in Ajmer, Rajasthan. A specific group of local influential men would trap one girl and manage to take obscene images. Then they would blackmail the girl into familiarising them to her classmates and friends. Eventually, other girls would be raped, sexually exploited and have their pictures taken. The cycle continued so forth. The gang continued to expand its operations and victimise an increasing number of girls.

Most of the rapists were Muslims while most victims were young Hindu girls. Unfortunately, even such clear cut instances of grooming are classified under the category of ‘Love Jihad’ as a consequence of which, it gives authorities more excuse to trivialise the phenomenon and not take harsh steps to address the root of the cause. Even the Nikita Tomar case is not ‘Love Jihad’ per se. She rejected the advances of the Muslim man and for that, she was murdered.

Individuals such as Kavita Krishnan, a hardcore Communist herself, claim that no woman has ever acknowledged such crimes and a strawman argument is invented to claim that the term is just an expression of bigotry against interfaith marriages, People like her have refused to acknowledge the numerous accounts of victims themselves who have come forward with their accounts of how they were groomed by the perpetrators.

Thus, the term ‘Love Jihad’ is not specific enough and allows bad-faith actors such as Ashok Gehlot and those in the liberal crowd to avoid addressing the rise in such crimes by pretending that they don’t exist or do not form their own particular and distinct category. It is for this reason that the term ‘Grooming Jihad’ is much more appropriate as it captures the essence of the crime itself in a much better way than ‘Love Jihad’.

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Searched termsLove Jihad
K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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