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‘Jihad against love’ in India?

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Jawad Falak |

In a major development in the sensational Hadiya case, the Supreme Court of India directed yesterday that Hadiya shall be produced before it to ascertain whether she, an adult, had married Shafin Jahan out of her own free will after her conversion. The Hadiya case highlights the use of intercommunal interaction as a tool used by extremist saffron forces.

The case revolves around Hadiya, formerly Akhila Ashokan, a Hindu girl who converted to Islam after marrying a Muslim man. The girl had married to 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.

There were others like the rich and powerful Syrian Christians, who were Nambudiri converts, followed the usual patrilineal system complete with heavy dowries and women being denied any share in the property.

The Kerala Court had annulled the marriage and sent Hadiya back to her parents. 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.

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Similarly, the Kerala High court observed that not all intercommunal marriages were Love jihad despite ruling against Hadiya’s betrothal. Another significant event was the remarks 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 “love jihad” issue during their Kerala Janaraksha Yatra.

Love Jihad and Hindutva

Love Jihad has become an integral part of Hindutva lexicon. It refers to the marriages between Muslim men and Hindu women. Its appeal to communal sensibilities by demonizing the matrimonial relations of Muslim men and Hindu women and thus synchronizes with the communal slogan of “Hindu Khatre mein hay” (Hindus are in danger). Hindutva fundamentalists use the threat of Love Jihad as one of the many perceived perils to the Indian Hindu community.

Its acclaimed “matriarchal” social norms such as the Tharawad system in which women were the inheritors of property is essentially a throwback to its violent past where males were warriors and females used as safeguards to protect material wealth.

Love Jihad appeals to both communal hatreds as well as the patriarchy inbuilt in several Indian cultures. Love Jihad posits Hindu men as the protectors of Hindu women. Not only are they protecting the survival of their faith but also safeguarding their honor and family by stopping Muslims from marrying Hindus.

Hindutva proclaims that a good Hindu woman is one who is subservient to her male counterpart. The Hindutva ideology pushes for a docile wife subservient to a patriarchal system. Career-oriented women are discouraged and deemed to be the opposite of good mothers and wives. This is apparent by the statement of the RSS chief that the duty of the woman is to look after her husband, failing which he can disown her and refuse to take care of her.

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It seeks the Hindu women as nothing more than a breeding station for the Hindu populace. It is this Hindu populace which is under threat from outside forces such as Muslims. Not only are Marriages between Muslim men and women imperiling the honor of Hindus but also putting the survival of the Hindu nation at stake. The “breeding posts” of good Hindu men are being subverted by Muslims who instead are utilizing them to produce Muslim children.

This mentality manifests in the statement of Hindu Yuva Vahini (Hindu Youth Force) leader Nagendra Pratap Tomar. “If the Muslim population continued to grow at the same pace, India will become an Islamic country by 2027,”

Hindutva and Kerala

This mentality manifests in the statement of Hindu Yuva Vahini (Hindu Youth Force) leader Nagendra Pratap Tomar. “If the Muslim population continued to grow at the same pace, India will become an Islamic country by 2027,”

Hindutva has long sought Kerala as its next target for domination. The most prosperous state of India has long been in the sights of Hindutva but has time and again frustrated the Hindutva designs. The main reason has been the overall secular atmosphere, integration between Keralans of different religious backgrounds and a vastly different interpretation of Hinduism. In response to the Beef ban in the Hindutva dominated Hindi belt, Kerala openly defied by hosting Beef festivals. The state elections in 2016 saw only one seat to the BJP out of a total 140.

However, with Love Jihad Hindutva may gain a backdoor into Keralan life. Its appeal to patriarchy may strike a nerve among the Keralan social sphere. Despite being among the more progressive Indian states, Kerala is still a patriarchal society as compared to the neighboring Tamil culture.

Love Jihad posits Hindu men as the protectors of Hindu women. Not only are they protecting the survival of their faith but also safeguarding their honor and family by stopping Muslims from marrying Hindus.

Its acclaimed “matriarchal” social norms such as the Tharawad system in which women were the inheritors of the property is essentially a throwback to its violent past where males were warriors and females used as safeguards to protect material wealth. There were no disputes over property from outsiders entering the family as the women stayed in their own homes not out of choice, but because that was what they were expected to do.

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Some other communities including Moppalas and even the royal families followed a matrilineal system of inheritance. But there were others like the rich and powerful Syrian Christians, who were Nambudiri converts, followed the usual patrilineal system complete with heavy dowries and women being denied any share in the property.

While the Joint family system is asserted to have disappeared in the late 1970s, some aspects of patriarchy have still clung to Keralan life. It is this tendency that the Hindutva forces seem to be appealing in the new ploy to capture the jewel of India’s South.

Jawad Falak is a research-analyst at global village space. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

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