A suitable BBC boy has rated the ‘Leo Jihad’ conspiracy theory in India

W.The chicken was recently aired on Indian Netflix in the BBC’s Vikram Seth’s novel A Suitable Boy, in which it did not take long for the rigging to escalate into controversy.

The series, claimed by politicians from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), played a central role in “hurting the religious sentiments” of Hindus, with a Hindu girl named Lata in the background of a temple. Had kissed a Muslim boy with passion.

The allegation, based on Seth’s novel series on love and politics in post-partition India, is that in a debate over the use of the country in the last few weeks after four states collaborating with BJP governments. Was the latest “Love jihad” refers to illegal – forced conversions for marriage purposes.

This week, two top Netflix India executives were charged by police with “objectionable scenes” in A Boy. Guru Tiwari, leader of the BJP’s youth wing, called on Netflix to remove the content and apologize for “encouraging love jihad”, and called for a nationwide boycott of the platform. Police investigation is underway.

The “love jihad” conspiracy theory claims that Muslim men are part of a plan to lure Hindu women into marriage in order to force them to convert to Islam. It was once a hypothetical idea of ​​Hindu rights, but since the BJP came to power in 2014, it has entered the mainstream, raising suspicions around the interfaith couple.

At the heart of this debate is a major concern: there is no hard evidence that this process exists in India. In February, the government confirmed that the term “love jihad” had not been defined under any existing law and that no matter had been reported to central agencies for investigation.

In Uttar Pradesh, out of the 14 recent incidents investigated by the police, eight were found involving voluntary couples and were not punished.

Interfaith marriage has been rare and is often predominant in India. However, in the last few years, couples involved in such marriages have spoken of facing extraordinary social, legal and family persecution. They have reported threats and violence from extremist Hindu groups, which can target their homes, send threats on the WhatsApp and post their details on social media.

Asif Iqbal, co-founder of Dhank of Humanity, an organization that helps interfaith couples, said: “Interfaith marriage in India has always been difficult but in recent years it has become extremely dangerous. We are now seeing that such The family is trying to intimidate their own children into interfaith marriages by contacting a Hindu fanatic group that will cause trouble and use violence.

Not all interfaith marriages involve conversion. The right to secular marriage has been enshrined in the Special Marriage Act of 1954 but many in India are completely unaware that the law even exists.

Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who has accused the BJP of trying to “end jihad and undermine sectarian harmony”, is in favor of jihad claims. Photographer: Direction Saraswat / Pacific Press / Rex / Shutter Stock

Police in Uttar Pradesh meet the parents of couples who register for interfaith secular marriages, and are said to be trying to intimidate them into stopping the operation. District registrars regularly refuse to register interfaith marriages, and under the law, 30-day notices are sent to parents of marriages, posted on public notice boards and in national newspapers. This can be an additional problem for interfaith couples who do not have the consent of their parents.

Akanksha Sharma, 31, a Hindu, described the difficulties and traumas she faced in trying to marry Muhammad Abdul Saeeb, 34, a Muslim, in 2015, against the wishes of her family. After escaping from his family, which had taken him prisoner, the couple had to move to cities and jobs to find a registrar.

“A lot of people, including my family members, were telling me that I was a victim of love jihad and expecting that my husband would force me to become a vegetarian or change me forcibly,” Sharma said. “It’s been five years and people still call me or text me to ask if I’ve been forced and if jihad has taken place,” he said. This is a story, there is no jihad in love.

Critics say the move to target marriages between Hindus and Muslims under the law is part of the BJP’s efforts to advance its Hindu nationalist agenda.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, from the opposition Congress party, accused the BJP of developing the idea of ​​love jihad to “divide the nation and undermine communal harmony”.

Another Congress minister, TS Singh Dev, said that love jihad was “a very bigoted term coined by the BJP”, adding: “Hatred and intolerance have become so deep that now they “By consensus, we are arrogantly legislating against interfaith marriages.”

BJP general secretary Arun Singh said: “Love jihad is a serious issue … many mothers and sisters have suffered the consequences. It is a matter for the state and state governments should legislate against it.” ۔

Uttar Pradesh’s right-wing Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has sought to raise the issue as a major concern. On Wednesday, the state drafted a law on illegal conversions for the purpose of marriage, although it did not specifically refer to jihad.

The Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Karnataka have all announced that they will follow the example of Adityanath. The state of Himachal Pradesh had enacted strict laws against forced conversions last year. “This love jihad has been around for some time and it is a social evil,” said Karnataka Home Minister Basuraj Bomai.

However, Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj High Court judges this week said the law has no place to interfere in the choice of marriage, and they condemned a previous 2014 court ruling that allowed religion to be used for marriage Was declared “unacceptable” to change.

Justice Pankaj Naqvi and Justice Vivek Agrawal said, “Living with any individual, their right to choose, regardless of religion, right to life and personal liberty is a fundamental right.”

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