The latest Hindutva mascot of the BJP and the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Adityanath boldly said during his visit to Kerala last week that the communist government of the State was encouraging what he termed as “Love Jihad”.
While attending the much advertised “Janaraksha Yatra” of the BJP in Kerala on October 5, Adityanath said that “Love Jihad” was a reality in Kerala and the State government was encouraging the problem.
What was much less advertised, though, was that instances from his own State. Instances from as recent as ten days before his visit to the God's own country, belie the saffron brigade’s claims about the very idea of “love jihad”.
Less than two weeks before Yogi's posturing on “love jihad”, on a Saturday morning, on September 23, Vidya Shrivastava woke up to loud noise outside her house in Dev Lok colony of Hapur. The noise was coming from a mob of Sangh Parivar activists including some from BJP, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and ABVP. They were raising slogans against her husband Shoaib Alam. The Hindutva mob was raising slogans against “love Jihad” and was accusing her husband Shoaib Alam of manipulating Vidya into marrying him.
It was not surprising that the Hindutva groups were informed and they were approached for “help” by no other than Vidya's family members who had come all the way from Bihar's Sitamarhi.
Before describing further how the Right wing's propaganda of “love jihad” fell flat in this case, it is important to briefly narrate the story of Vidya and Alam. Both resident of Sitamarhi in Bihar knew each other from Sitamarhi. They fell in love but their families opposed their relationship after which they came to Hapur where Alam runs a computer training institute for last four years. They got married in court early this year and continued living in Hapur.
When the protest by the right-wing mob turned menacing, the couple called up the police and requested to rescue them from the harassment of the Hindutva lot. The police came and tried to take the couple out of the house to a safe location. While the police took the couple out of the house, the Hindutva activists fought with the police trying to snatch Alam from police protection. They tried to overpower the police personnel after which police resorted to lathicharge to maintain law and order before the situation could go out of hand. It was anybody's guess what the mob would have done with Alam had the police not acted strictly. Somehow the police managed to rescue the couple and took them to an undisclosed location.
While the media could not manage to talk to the couple, the Deputy Superintendent of Police and Circle Officer of Hapur city Pawan Kumar Baliyan talked to the media. He rejected any claim of “love jihad”. He said that there was no question of Alam “manipulating” Vidya into marrying him as they had married in court early this year. He said that Vidya told the police that she and Alam married in court and Vidya was living with her husband out of her own will.
“While Vidya's relatives alleged that Alam had lured her and manipulated her marrying him, Vidya had told the police that she was living with Alam on her own. They got married some time ago in court. So, there was no basis of the allegation of the protesters that it was a case of love jihad,” Baliyan told the media adding that the police sent Vidya's family back to Motihari.
Three days after the Hapur incident, the Right wing struck again. On September 27, Krishna, a 21- year-old girl from Greater Noida and Saddam, a 24-year-old labour contractor from Shamli, went to Meerut court to get married. Somehow the Bajrang Dal workers got the tip off that an inter-religious couple was in the court and was on their way to register their marriage. This was enough for the RSS affiliates to attack the couple and their lawyers within the premises of the court. The police present inside the premises of the court, quickly responded and immediately formed a cordon around the young couple. Over fifty Bajrang Dal activists were furious seeing the police not cooperating with them. Accusing the police of “abetting and helping love jihad”, they heckled the police personnel. So much was the force that police had to once again resort to lathicharge to prevent the situation from going out of hand.
The police took the couple to a local police station and handed them over to a team from Haryana police which was there to investigate on a FIR against Saddam for kidnapping Krishna. After Krishna eloped with Saddam on Wednesday, her uncle reported the matter to the police and a case was registered under Section 346 (wrongful confinement) of the Indian Penal Code in the early hours of September 27 at the SGM Police station in Faridabad. Krishna was living with her uncle in Faridabad.
According to the Faridabad police, Krishna who is currently pursuing B.A. (II) from K L Mehta Women's College, became friends with Saddam Hussain three years ago while she was pursuing B.Tech from an institute in Greater Noida. But the two remained in touch even when she left her engineering mid-way to come and stay with her uncle who is a head constable in Delhi Police.
The next day, on September 28th, Head Constable Raj Singh, of Haryana police who was the Investigation Officer in the abduction case registered against Saddam told the media that the two were produced before the court. Krishna told the magistrate that she had gone with Saddam out of her will. The magistrate had to let the couple go and police had to close the abduction case after Krishna's testimony.
When NewsClick contacted Balraj Dungar to ask him what he thought of the episode, his anger knew no bounds. He accused the police of UP and Haryana, both ruled by the BJP, of helping Muslim youths in “Love Jihad”. He rejected the view that Krishna chose to be with Saddam out of her own will and instead blamed the police for promoting “love jihad” cases.
“We are proud that we did not let a Muslim boy manipulate a Hindu girl into marrying him. But what happened finally? Police came and did not let us do our job. This is the police of BJP ruled States like UP and Haryana. If police helps love jihad in BJP ruled States then just imagine what must be going on in other parts of Bharat,” Dungar was shouting on phone out of anger as if he would break the loudspeaker while talking to NC.
Asked how would he stop girls and boys from Muslim and Hindu communities from inter-mixing, he continued his rants about “Islamist conspiracy of love jihad” without presenting any evidence to substantiate his allegation. On being asked about what should be done, if Muslim girls marry Hindu boys and Hindu girls marry Muslim men, he had a straight forward and chilling reply. “I want to make it very clear that we would never let Muslim boys marry Hindu girls.”
Dungar may not be aware of this but Adityanath knows that his past encounter with “Love Jihad” as a slogan for political mobilisation was not exactly a pleasant experience. This story is of the time when Adityanath was just an MP from Gorakhpur and was made in-charge of Assembly by-polls of 2014 in Uttar Pradesh. All he could talk about was “love jihad” then. Interestingly, the saffron party did not do well in the by-polls.
Love jihad pulled out a sweet revenge on the BJP. The love jihad case which was highlighted then by the entire Hindutva brigade across the country, fell flat six months later when the girl approached the police saying that her father was allegedly bribed by the local BJP leader. She had registered a complaint against her own father alleging threat to her life from him. After her shocking disclosure and affidavit before the magistrate she not only managed to get Kaleem out, but also later married him.