By MM Special Correspondent,
New Delhi: Busting the bogey of ‘Love Jihad’, a sting-operation done by the Cobrapost and Gulail has revealed that how the BJP and right-wing organizations like the VHP, RSS and their splinter groups use violence, intimidation, emotional blackmail, duplicity and drugs to split up Hindu–Muslim married couples.
Briefing the media about one-year long investigation, codenamed as ‘Operation Juliet’ here on Monday, the investigative team said they visited Muzaffarnagar and Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, Mangalore in Karnataka, and Kasaragod and Ernakulum in Kerala, apart from Delhi, to find the truth behind love jihad.
They said the team members infiltrating the ranks of right-wing groups and discovered a sinister twist to love jihad:
“It was carried out with sanctions from the very top, from the BJP, VHP and RSS. Gulail have on record BJP MLAs and heads of the right-wing groups admitting to their role in violent and illegal activities related to “love jihad” and how they manipulated, intimidated, used force and blackmail with Hindu girls who had eloped and married Muslim and Christian boys. The communal and patriarchal base of “love jihad” means that the immediate victims are not just Muslim men but also Hindu women”.
“These right-wing groups slap fabricated cases of rape and kidnapping on innocent Muslim men and use force on “un-cooperating” Hindu women – who have married Muslim men – to toe their line and give false testimonies against their husbands. Apart from exposing the communal mind set of those involved, their own admission is evidence of how they have broken the law at several levels”.
Pretending to be an M. Phil. student from Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi who was associated with right-wing student organisation ABVP, Cobrapost correspondent Shazia Nigar explored the underbelly of “love jihad” in Muzaffarnagar, Karnataka and Kerala. She interviewed many leaders and workers of the Sangh organizations and brought out the following facts:
*They forcibly rescue girls who are victims of “love jihad.”
* They misuse public support for mounting pressure on police and local administration to nullify such marriages.
* They file fake rape and kidnapping cases against Muslim youth who elope with or marry Hindu women.
* They use fake documents showing girls as minor so as to implicate the Muslim boys.
* If a Hindu woman is not willing to give a statement against her Muslim lover or husband or is not willing to forsake him, they use emotional blackmail and physical force to make her fall in line.
*They even administer medicinal drugs on “love jihad” victims to induce temporary amnesia to rescue them from inter-religious marriages.
* Interestingly, not a single woman, they claimed to have rescued, ever sought their help saying she was a victim of “love jihad.”
* They distribute inflammatory pamphlets and books to further their cause.
* They run counselling centres and Hindu helplines to brainwash Hindu women who marry outside their community into giving up on their love life and settle for the man chosen by the Hindutva Brigade.
* These counselling sessions consist of a poor depiction of the man she is in love and denigration of his religion, call to her family and community honour, instilling a sense of insecurity in the woman with regard to her future and use of threat of physical harm to both her and her lover.
“Apart from claiming to have employed such dirty tricks to rescue the so-called victims of “love jihad”, the Hindu brigade interviewed claimed “love jihad” was responsible for Muzaffarnagar riots that took place a couple of months before Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. Two BJP leaders, Sanjeev Baliyan and Umesh Malik, confessed to their roles in these riots. Among these fanatics, we have Shiv Kumar, the founder of Krishna Sena, who claims to have been a Hindu terrorist whose job was to kill people from minority communities”.
Across Uttar Pradesh, Karanataka and Kerala, the narrative around what the BJP, RSS and VHP define as love jihad is eerily similar.
To counter the so called “love jihad”, the BJP, RSS and VHP conduct what they call “rescue operations”. These operations often involve forcibly separating the couple, using violence on both of them and slapping fabricated cases of kidnapping and rape on the Muslim husbands. These organisations have formed teams comprising lower level workers who keep an eye on cases of Hindu girls eloping with Muslim boys. Some of them also use right-wing leaning lawyers as informants. If an application is filed with the marriage registrar’s office under the Special Marriage Act, these lawyers tip these teams.
How they spread falsehood about Muslims and their institutions, here is a classic example of Umesh Mallik, who contested MLA elections from Budhana on a BJP ticket and lost. He said inconversation with Cobra Correspondent that “the famous Islamic seminary of Deoband of training Muslim boys for “love jihad.” He says: “Those people (Muslims) have eight children, ten children and they send one or two of them to Deoband. There the handsome ones are selected and trained to trap Hindu girls. They are told if they do this Allah will be pleased with them. Their religion says this. They do this work of trapping our girls and making them elope. In the last four months, 27 girls have eloped.”
In the course of this one-year long investigation, the Gulail team met leaders and workers of the BJP, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) such as BJP MP from Muzaffarnagar and Minister of State for Agriculture Sanjeev Kumar Balyan; BJP MLA from Thana Bhawan in Uttar Pradesh, Suresh Rana; BJP MP from Kairana in UP, Hukum Singh; BJP MLA from Sardhana, Sangeet Som; BJP’s district level leader in Muzaffarnagar Sanjay Agarwal; Umesh Mallik, who contested the Assembly election from Budhana on a BJP ticket and lost; Shrikar Prabhu, Karnataka BJP’s executive member who has since been expelled from the party; BJP MLC from Mangalore, Captain Ganesh Karnik; RSS leader Omkar Singh in Muzaffarnagar; Lalit Maheshwari, VHP’s Muzaffarnagar unit head; Jagdish Shenava, advocate and VHP’s Mangalore district president; VHP worker Hari Shiv Prasad; Shiv Kumar Sharma, the founder of Krishna Sena, a religious organization; and the chief of Hindu Unity Forum Ravish Tantri.