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Indian SC rules against love jihad campaign started by Hindutva extremists

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The Indian Supreme Court on Tuesday said that a court cannot examine whether an adult woman’s marriage was valid or invalid, whether she was brainwashed into it or not, unless she complained. This case can be seen as a major setback to the “love jihad” campaign by Hindutva extremists in India.

The top court indicated that it would restrict its adjudication in the Hadiya case to whether the Kerala High Court could have annulled her marriage to Shafin Jahan, a PFI activist, in a habeas corpus petition. The case has been touted as an example of love jihad from the state. Her father Ashok Kumar had first moved the High Court against her illegal confinement.

A Hindu seer has also announced that he is making preparations to form a Hindu task force to prevent cases of ‘love jihad’ from happening. The cases have increased just months before the state assembly elections that are set for May. 

During the case, the marriage was solemnized and presented to the court as a fait accompli, prompting the court to annul it. Shafin Jahan moved the top court against the decision. In its first reaction to his plea, the top court led by former CJI J.S. Khehar prima facie agreed with the father’s plea for a NIA enquiry. The case revolves around Hadiya, formerly Akhila Ashokan, a Hindu girl who converted to Islam after marrying a Muslim man.

The girl had married Jahan and converted to Islam without her family’s consent. Her father appealed to the Kerala High Court insisting that Hadiya had fallen foul of a Daesh plot to entrap and indoctrinate vulnerable men and women in Kerala. The Kerala Court had annulled the marriage and sent Hadiya back to her parents.

Read more: 6 face death over honor killing: “Love Jihad” against Dalits?

However, her husband has appealed to the Supreme Court who has stepped in. The Court has ordered the NIA to investigate the ties to Daesh and made several observations. The apex court observed that the consent of the girl is of prime significance as she is not a minor. It also observed that “falling in love with a criminal” was not a crime.

Two Mangaluru women, Madhuri Bolar and Bharathi Prashanth filed police complaints alleging abuse and harassment they were subjected to on social media resulting in the arrest of four men.

Similarly, the Kerala High court observed that not all inter-communal marriages were love jihad despite ruling against Hadiya’s betrothal. Another significant event was the remark by Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave who tried to explain that the Centre tried to give a political twist to the whole issue and how BJP President Amit Shah and UP CM Yogi Adityanath tried to cash in on the “love jihad” issue during their Kerala Janaraksha Yatra.

Love jihad has become a pillar of the modern Hindutva movement with many Hindutva extremists targeting interfaith marriages as a tool to gain power. A signature campaign by right wing organizations including Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Durga Vahini and Bajrang Dal in Udupi has ended with a case registered against leaders of the groups in the town police station.

Read more: ISIS uses Love Jihad to recruit Indian women to their cause

Around forty leaders came together on Monday to distribute pamphlets that read – “Awareness campaign against love jihad”. But the assembly of forty people on the national highway was done without obtaining permission from district administration or police, forcing police officials to take action.

In another incident, Priyanka, a resident of Daregudde near Moodabidri was investigated by police after she went missing on December 9th. Pro-Hindu groups claimed it was a case of ‘love jihad’.

“When questioned, they said they had organized awareness campaign against love jihad for the benefit of male and female students. They were questioned about permission obtained for organizing this programme. They answered in the negative,” said assistant police sub-inspector of the station. The police official added that the leaders illegally assembled on national highway 169A and obstructed movement of people and vehicles for one hour from 12.15 to 13.15 pm.

The leaders included Vilas Nayak, Sunil KR, Santosh Suvarna, Dinesh Shetty and Lokesh Shettigar from the Bajrang Dal, Dinesh Mendon, of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Surendra Koteshwar and Padma Ratnakar of Durga Vahini.

Read more: Indian caste war continues as Dalits are illegally detained

The awareness campaign comes at a time pro-Hindu groups are intensifying efforts to stop inter-faith relationships. Several cases of relationships between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man have been questioned in the past month.

Love jihad has become a pillar of the modern Hindutva movement with many Hindutva extremists targeting interfaith marriages as a tool to gain power.

Members of Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, ‘counselled’ the woman, alleging that her boyfriend was a drug-peddler. In another incident, Priyanka, a resident of Daregudde near Moodabidri was investigated by police after she went missing on December 9th. Pro-Hindu groups claimed it was a case of ‘love jihad’.

Two Mangaluru women, Madhuri Bolar and Bharathi Prashanth filed police complaints alleging abuse and harassment they were subjected to on social media resulting in the arrest of four men. A Hindu seer has also announced that he is making preparations to form a Hindu task force to prevent cases of ‘love jihad’ from happening. The cases have increased just months before the state assembly elections that are set for May. 


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