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Hindu women charged with ‘Love-Jihad’ for converting to Islam

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Hadiya, whose marriage to a Muslim youth had triggered a nationwide controversy, has demanded compensation from the state government for the loss she incurred after the high court nullified her marriage and sent her away with her parents. “There were some reports in the media that I demanded compensation from my parents. That is absolutely wrong. I sought compensation from the state government,” she told a news conference here on Monday.

“My legal struggle lasted roughly for two years and the six months  I spent with my parents were horrible. I was literally under house arrest. I lost two precious years of my life. I don’t think my parents would want to harm me but they were under the influence of some anti-national forces,” Hadiya said without elaborating which forces she was referring to. “They are using them (parents) for political benefits,” she added.

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.

Narrating her experience at her house, Hadiya said all those who visited her wanted her to return to Hinduism. “The police who were deployed at the house were subservient to the visitors. They didn’t take my complaints seriously,” she said, adding that she has not withdrawn the complaints against Rahul Eashwar, who allegedly tried to convert her back to Hinduism. Hadiya wanted the government to release the list of persons who had come to her house during the period.

“Even psychiatrists have come to my house. Some of the visitors had told me that they came with the consent of judges,” she said. Asked whether her mother had tried to poison her, as alleged in the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, Hadiya said she stands by all that she said in the document.

Read more: ‘Jihad against love’ in India?

Hadiya, who met the media along with her husband on Monday, Shefin Jahan, said she would like to meet her parents soon. “It is mandatory in the religion I believe to give respect to parents. I have not spoken to them after the Supreme Court verdict because I want to give them some time to accept the reality,” she said.

In 2016, Hadiya – who was born as Akhila – converted to Islam and left her home. She married Shafin Jahan and despite her constant reassurances that both her conversion and her marriage were the result of her free will, her father filed a complaint claiming that she was a victim of ‘love jihad’ – that she was converted so she could fight for Daesh in Syria.

Hindutva fundamentalists use the threat of ‘love jihad’ as one of the many perceived perils to the Indian Hindu community. Love jihad has become a pillar of the modern Hindutva movement with many Hindutva extremists targeting interfaith marriages as a tool to gain power.

The marriage was annulled by the High Court in May this year and it resulted in her being confined in her parents’ house for months on end. Shafin Jahan moved the Supreme Court against the judgment. “I want my freedom,” she told judges in the Supreme Court, adding that she had spent the last 11 months in “unlawful custody”.

‘Love jihad’ has become an integral part of the 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.

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

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.

‘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.

It is apparent that in the current timeline, ‘love jihad’ has become the greatest sociocultural tool available for Hindutva to spread its message of divisiveness and oppression across Indian society.

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