On June 26, a case of abduction and religious conversion of two Sikh girls came to light from Jammu & Kashmir. As per reports, an 18-year-old Sikh Girl from Badgam district was lured and converted to Islam. Another case was of a girl from Mehjoor Nagar in Srinagar, attended function of her Muslim friend, from where she was reportedly kidnapped and married off to a boy who attended the function. While the girl was not a minor, she is still missing.
The reports of abduction and conversion of two Sikh girls to Islam stirred a massive online furore, with scandalised people demanding action against the culprits. Shiromani Akali Dal leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) also raised the issue on social media platforms urging the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir to intervene.
According to Sardar Santpal Singh, President Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee-Budgam, who narrated the whole incident, one of the two girls was mentally unstable. A Muslim man lured her on the pretext of love and marriage to convert her. He said, “A girl from Sikh community has been forcefully converted to Islam. She is not mentally stable. The man lured her on the pretext of love. It is not a love affair but a clear case of Love Jihad. The government is acting negatively against us.”
He further added that despite written assurance by the SP who was handling the case that she would be handed over back to the Sikh family, the court orders came against them. He said, “The police inspector had assured in writing that the girl would be handed over to them after presenting her in the Court. However, the judge gave the judgement in favour of the Muslim man and handed over the girl to him.”
Not only this, the family of the girl was not allowed in the court. The family and the relatives of the girl were sitting outside the court as they were barred from attending the court proceedings on account of COVID regulations.
Akali Dal’s Manjinder Singh Sirsa said, “Urging J&K LG to address this issue of Srinagar. A Sikh girl (mentally disturbed) has been given to the family of a Muslim guy by the Court. The family of the girl wasn’t even allowed to attend the Court’s proceedings while the boy’s whole family was inside the Court.”
Sirsa, who had earlier mocked Hinduism as “weak religion” for legislating anti-conversion laws, demanded the same laws to be implemented to save Sikh women from forced religious conversion. In a series of tweets, Sirsa demanded the Home Minister of the country, Amit Shah, to pass a strict anti-conversion law on the lines of that passed in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, to stop the forced conversion of Sikh women into Islam.
Social media users play down abduction and conversion of Sikh girls, lest it helps “Sanghi ecosystem”
While there was a general demand on social media platforms to institute tough laws to stop such abductions and forced conversions, there were some Twitter users, who were more concerned with preserving the imaginary construct of “Sikh-Muslim unity” instead of having stern laws to stop the rampant kidnapping and conversion of non-Muslims to Islam.
One such individual Amaan Bali, took to Twitter to undermine the demand for action against the culprits and prevent such incidents from happening in the future. Instead of bringing the accused to the books, Bali was concerned with the ‘Sanghi Ecosystem’ taking advantage of the incident. He warned young Sikhs to not cross over to the “saffron side” and claimed that there has been “solidarity on ground by Muslims in Srinagar which might not be reflected in the hijacked narrative that Sanghi ecosystem wants to portray”.
In essence, Bali was suggesting Sikhs to curb their outrage and refrain from expressing their disapproval against the abduction and forced conversion of two Sikh girls to Islam in Kashmir, lest it would undermine the”Sikh-Muslim” political unity.
Similarly, another so-called journalist, Sandeep Singh claimed that the Muslim community needs to step up and resolve the conflict, otherwise Sanghis will turn a minority community against the another community.
Singh did not seem concerned with the fact that two Sikh girls, one of whom was reportedly mentally unstable, were abducted and converted to Islam. He was more occupied with the worry that ‘Sanghis’ would use the issue to create discord between two communities.
It must be noted here that in Kashmir, it is the Hindus who are in minority along with Sikhs.
The farce of preserving narrative by keeping silent and turning a blind eye to criminal activities
For such propagandists, salvaging the farce of “Sikh-Muslim” unity is more important than fighting for justice to victims. For them, the occurrence of a horrendous crime such as abduction, possible rape and forced religious conversion is not serious enough to warrant outrage and takes a back seat as they are more bothered about “Sanghi ecosystem” taking ‘advantage’ of the incident. In their bid to save their tenuous narrative of “Sikh-Muslim unity”, they want Sikhs to stoically endure the atrocities and meekly accept their fate, for the fear of helping the “Sanghis”.
These ‘pro-farmer journalists’ want Sikhs to turn a blind eye to the sufferings of their co-religionists, because doing otherwise might help rival political parties. The grooming jihad waged against Sikh minorities in Jammu and Kashmir is a non-issue for them. Instead, the outrage against it is used to demonise Hindus and frighten Sikhs that Hindus might exploit the incident and sow seeds of discord to disrupt the imagined Sikh-Muslim brotherhood.
This practice of keeping silent when the victim is a non-Muslim and the perpetrators Muslims is long devised and implemented by the left-liberal ecosystem. The religion of the victim is an unnecessary detail for them if it is anything other than Islam. Contrarily, when the victim is a Muslim and the accused non-Muslims, the members of left-liberal ecosystem go hammer and tongs to communalise the incident and describe it as hate crime, even when the motive of crime is not religion.
For example, the Junaid Khan incident, when a Muslim teenager was killed by a group of non-Muslim assailants over a spat on a train seat. But the left-liberal cabal bastardised the incident by including the religious angle, alleging that Khan was killed because he was suspected of carrying beef. Later, the Punjab and Haryana High Court observed that the death had happened because of fight between two groups of daily travellers over occupying train seats and not due to “lynching” over suspicion of carrying beef.
In case the victim is a Hindu and assailants Muslims, the left-liberal ‘intellectuals’ take the moral high ground and sermonise others of understanding the nuance and not vilifying the minorities until the facts of the matter are out in public. Take for instance, the dichotomy of left-liberal ecosystem’s stand on Kathua rape and incidents of rapes committed in mosques.
In the Kathua rape case, the left-liberal ecosystem went into overdrive to link the rape of a Muslim minor girl to a Hindu temple, allegedly the place where the girl was raped. However, they conveniently gloss over the numerous incidents of rapes that take place in mosques. This is done to prevent their narrative from falling apart and in doing so, they do not even flinch from shielding Islamists, lest they strengthen the “Sanghi ecosystem”.
The perils of disregarding the voices of propagandists as fringe opinions
In case of two Sikhs girls being abducted and converted to Islam in Kashmir, while one might be inclined to dismiss such attempts by propagandists to demonise Hindus for the atrocities committed by Islamists as individual opinions, limited only to the realm of social media. However, it would be perilously delusional to underestimate that such individual opinions do not have the potency to coalesce into public opinions that later have a bearing on political outcomes.
People are disposed to believe that such individual opinions die their natural death and do not play any role in shaping public opinion that has an effect on the ground. In the last few months, it is amply clear how some Khalistani elements masquerading as ‘farmers’ have used social media websites to mobilise themselves and normalise violence in the name of farmers protests.
The farmers’ protest, which currently plagues the border region of Delhi, was infiltrated by Khalistani elements through the means of social media. Supporters and sympathisers of Khalistan and terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale urged their supporters online to join the protests and back the farmers in their demonstrations against the three farm laws. Under the pretext of carrying out a tractor rally, the farmers ran riot on the streets of Delhi on Republic day this year. Social media websites played a key role in organising and mobilising people for protests that routinely turned violent.
As such, social media websites have played a key role in aggregating and amplifying narratives that later became popular among its supporters. However, every voice making the ‘right sounds’ to further their narrative takes a small step towards normalising and rationalising such conversation.
For instance, initially, gaumutra jibes were simply used to mock and ridicule Hindus online by Hinduphobic elements, who could not provide intellectual and rational argument to counter them. It slowly crept into political narrative, with politicians and bureaucrats using it casually to insult Hindus. And finally, the gaumutra jibes were used by Islamic terrorists, most notably the Pulwama terrorist, who used gaumutra jibes in his video justifying the attack on Indians.
The usage of gaumutra jibes was so dangerously normalised that even after Islamic terrorists started using them, the left-liberal ‘intellectuals’ felt no qualms in continuing its usage against Hindus, and they still use it to mock Hindus to date. It is worth noting that the dehumanisation of Hindus with gaumutra jibes had started mostly through its use on social media websites.
Similarly, the propaganda against Citizenship Amendment Act assumed a disastrous proportions after lies and misinformation were peddled on social media websites. In fact, internet was used as a tool to organise anti-CAA protests that later culminated into a full-fledged anti-Hindu riots in Delhi. People still believe CAA will strip of Indian Muslims of their Indian citizenship while in reality the Act has nothing to do with Indian citizens, Muslims or otherwise. CAA only fast-tracked Indian citizenship of persecuted religious minorities in three neighbouring Islamic countries.
The Sikhs, who protested against CAA, were also protesting against granting of Indian citizenship for their coreligionists in neighbouring countries who are facing unimaginable atrocities only because of their religion.
Therefore, to disregard the “Sanghi propaganda” trope peddled by propagandits as mere random opinions online is fraught with danger. With social media, you can never predict how an opinion that appears seemingly fringe beliefs becomes mainstream in no time. For that reason, it is incredibly important that people take note of how a crime, ostensibly committed by radical Islamists, is being used by Khalistanis to purvey hatred against Hindus and shield the perpetrators.
Just like gaumutra jibes have been normalised by the usual suspects, if Khalistanis are allowed to propagate their propaganda, Grooming Jihad would no longer be treated as a crime against minority Hindu and Sikh women in Jammu and Kashmir.