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‘Love jihad cases are on the rise’: How Hindu women from West Bengal are trafficked to Bangladesh and converted to Islam

Such cases of forced religious conversion of Hindus remind us of the 1971 war of independence of Bangladesh when several Hindu families had to convert to Islam to save their lives from the extreme notoriety of Pakistani occupation forces.

For years, organized rackets have been abducting Hindu men, women, and children from West Bengal, smuggling them into Bangladesh, and converting them to Islam. Meanwhile, almost regularly, Hindu girls are being abducted from India – brought to Bangladesh and forced into religious conversion.

Following a recent incident, where a minor Hindu aged 15 was abducted by Sabbir Ahmed and his father from Sepahijila district in Tripura, Bangladesh authorities reportedly alerted Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) to stay vigilant of such cases and stop Muslims from entering Bangladesh along with abducted girls and females from India.

But unfortunately, Bangladesh authorities have not warned local marriage registrars and courts to refrain from registering so-called interfaith marriages or conducting religious conversion of Hindu girls and females. As a result, cases of love jihad and conversion of Hindu girls are on an alarming rise.

Although such heinous crimes were first exposed in January 2020 in several local media outlets in Bangladesh, surprisingly, anyone sharing links to those reports was banned by Facebook, or the links were removed under the pretense of “violating community standards”.

Bangladesh’s leading Bangla daily Jugantor and the news portal Jagonews reported that 11 Indian nationals were arrested by local police from Ramganj upazilla in the Lakshmipur district. These individuals had been lured or abducted from West Bengal in India, smuggled into Bangladesh, and converted to Islam. Radical Islamic hate-preacher Mizanur Rahman Azhari conducted the “ceremony” of this religious conversion.

According to the report, an individual named Monir Hossain, son of Mojibul Haque and local union council member Fatema Begum, disappeared from Bangladesh in 2006 at the age of 14. He went to West Bengal by joining Tablighi Jamaat and started living there, pretending to be a Hindu named “Shankar Adhikari”.

In West Bengal, he married a Hindu woman. After living in West Bengal for more than a decade, Monir Hossain and his wife fell into the trap of Tablighi Jamaat, who lured them into converting to Islam. Later, Tablighi Jamaat introduced Monir Hossain, alias Shankar Adhikari, to an individual from Bangladesh who offered him a handsome amount of cash to lure Hindu women and girls, smuggle them into Bangladesh, and force them into religious conversion.

Subsequently, he succeeded in trapping six women, most of whom were relatives of his wife, and entered Bangladesh with visas. Upon their arrival, these six Hindu women, along with Monir Hossain’s wife and two children, were converted to Islam.

This is not the only case of Hindus being converted to Islam.

According to daily Jugantor report, in Habiganj district’s Baniyachang upazilla, a Hindu woman named Korful Sarkar, daughter of Borma Nandan Sarkar, fell victim to love jihad and was forcibly married by a Muslim named Kajol Mia. After living in such captivity, Korful Sarkar divorced her Muslim husband through the court and returned to the Hindu religion.

This made local Muslim leaders violently annoyed at her, and they declared her “out of bounds,” forcing her to live inside her father’s home. For years, she has been enduring this painful situation. At one stage, local Muslim leaders set a precondition for withdrawing their order against Korful: she, along with her father Borma Nandan Sarkar and other family members, must leave the Hindu religion and embrace Islam.

In another report, the Hindustan Times said a Hindu girl was abducted by Shamim Ahmed, headmaster of Ashalota Primary School, forced to embrace Islam, and married through the court. Later, the parents of the victim lodged a complaint with the local police station, and the perpetrator was arrested. However, the victim was not allowed to return to the Hindu religion.

In August 2023, a group of Muslims attempted to force a Hindu girl named Oishi Bonik to convert to Islam.

In another report, Dhaka’s oldest Bangla daily Ittefaq stated that Islamists sent letters to fifty Hindu families in the Magura district of Bangladesh, calling on them to leave the Hindu religion and embrace Islam. Although law enforcement agencies later arrested four Muslim culprits behind sending such letters, all of them were released from prison on bail and, until now, have not been convicted by the court.

Meanwhile, another report indicated that in Saudi Arabia, although 347,000 Hindus were lured into religious conversion by organized Islamist groups led by Tablighi Jamaat, radical Muslims tried to divert attention by spreading misleading information, claiming “347,000 Muslims have embraced Islam”.

There also is horrifying information of forcing Hindus into religious conversion in Pakistan and other countries.

Another report stated that in January 2023, a Hindu couple – Ashok Mitra (65) and Parboti Mitra (40) in Madaripur district, Bangladesh – had to leave the Hindu religion and become Muslim to save their lives from continuous repression and notoriety by local Muslims.

In the same month, another Hindu woman named Sagarika Das fell victim to love jihad and married a Muslim youth after religious conversion. She was trapped by Abul Hashem through Facebook.

Most shocking information about love jihad was published in Dhaka-based news portal Bangla Tribune, where it has been revealed how Chennai police had simply buried the case of an “international love jihad”. According to the report, Sardar Nafis, son of Sardar Sakhawat Hussain Bokul, leader of Al Qaeda-connected Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) lured a Hindu girl while studying in the United Kingdom. Later, the father of the victim – a wealthy businessman from Chennai lodged a complaint with police stating his daughter was trapped in love jihad by Sardar Nafis, who later forcibly took her to Bangladesh – forced into religious conversion and married. Following this incident, the victim called managed to contact her parents in Chennai and informed them that she has been trapped by Sardar Nafis and now is being regularly facing physical and sexual torture.

In the complaint, the victim’s father also said, to brainwash his daughter, Sardar Nafis used notorious hate-preacher Zakir Naik’s videos. But finally, investigating agencies had mysteriously submitted a final report stating, the Indian girl had willingly converted to Islam and it was not a case of international love jihad.

Such cases of forced religious conversion of Hindus remind us of the 1971 war of independence of Bangladesh when several Hindu families had to convert to Islam to save their lives from the extreme notoriety of Pakistani occupation forces. After 54 years of independence, Hindus in Bangladesh still continue to face extreme cruelty, persecution, and torture, leaving them with two options: either leave the Hindu religion and become Muslim or migrate to India by abandoning their homes, properties, and businesses.

Meanwhile, several years ago, Dhaka-based newspapers published a shocking information stating several Hindus, following religious conversion were lured into joining militancy outfit such as Ansar Al Islam (local franchise of Al Qaeda) to Islam and were deployed into terrorist activities while they even had travelled to foreign countries including Syria and joined Islamic State as its fighters.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, writer, research scholar, and counterterrorism specialist. He regularly writes for local and international newspapers.

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