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Tehseen Poonawalla says ‘Love Jihad’ coverage by news channels will lead to genocide, writes to NBA president Rajat Sharma to ‘prevent a catastrophe’

Poonawalla alleged that news channels were carrying out debates on love jihad blindly by inviting panellists who lie on national television about the law and the statistics "to vitiate the environment".

Vocal Congress supporter Tehseen Poonawalla has written to News Broadcasters Association (NBA) President, Rajat Sharma expressing concern over the debates and discussions held by news channels on the issue of Love Jihad (also called Grooming Jihad). In his letter, Poonawalla requested Sharma to immediately issue guidelines to all the news channels regarding the coverage of the issue of love jihad.

Tehseen Poonawalla’s letter to Rajat Sharma (Source: Bar and Bench)

Poonawalla alleged that news channels were carrying out debates on love jihad blindly by inviting panellists who lie on national television about the law and the statistics “to vitiate the environment”. He cited the example of a debate where a panellist allegedly said that there were millions of love jihad cases but he failed to point out any cases. He said that a female panellist once told his that there were no laws to protect Hindu girls from murders and cheating which, he claimed, was not true as there is the Indian Penal Code is “religion neutral”. He added that such “fake arguments” are amplified on social media after receiving legitimacy on News channels.

Poonawalla, who is a relative of Robert Vadra, went on to predict a genocide and wrote, “…I fear we are heading for a genocide”. He urged Rajat Sharma to take up the matter with NBA, and prevent a catastrophe.

Later in the day, Tehseen Poonawalla tweeted to inform that Rajat Sharma called him to acknowledge the receipt of the letter from him. Sharma also told him that the letter has been forwarded to Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri, the Chairperson of News Broadcasting Standards Authority.

NBSA is an arm of the NBA, an organisation of select TV News Channels. Arnab Goswami, the editor in chief of Republic TV, runs a rival organisation named News Broadcasters Federations. Any decision to be taken by NBSA in the matter, hence, will not be bound on NBF members.

Denial of Love Jihad

Poonawalla is not the only one who is living in denial of the rising menace of Grooming Jihad. Recently, Communist Kavita Krishnan had refused to acknowledge the rampant cases of Love Jihad saying that she was yet to come across any case where Love Jihad was proved. The term Love Jihad is used to refer to cases where a Muslim man lures a Hindu woman, either by concealing and lying about his true religious identity or by pretending to be a non-Muslim, to develop a relationship with a non-Muslim girl. Such cases involve physical and emotional harassment of the victim often leading to murder when the victim confronts the culprit after the real identity is revealed. Cases of Love Jihad come up almost everyday. This has led to the government of the states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Karnataka to contemplate law against Love Jihad.

Similar opinions were expressed by Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Love Jihad who said that this was a term coined by the BJP to divide the country and disturb communal harmony. Denying the existence of Love Jihad, Gehot said that “marriage” was a matter of personal liberty and “Jihad had no place in love”.

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