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Ahead of Navratri, senior Gujarat activists write to CM Anandiben Patel to protest Love Jihad "terror"

By Our Representative
With Navratri festival all set to begin in Gujarat, several civil rights groups and individual activists of Gujarat have come together to strongly protest the efforts by certain “extremist” forces to create an atmosphere of communal hatred in Gujarat in the name of fighting Love Jihad, saying, the essence of the whole exercise of these forces is to consider women as property of a particular community by considering Navaratri as the private property of a particular Hindutva group. In a strongly-worded letter to Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel, they have urged upon her to immediately put a brake on their “vicious propaganda.”
Pointing out that Navratri, which starts on September 25, is not just a religious festival but exemplifies Gujarat’s cultural heritage, the letter says, “It is dangerous that the Hindutva forces are trying to project it as their private property. One should not allow this to happen. This is particularly pernicious that it is happening at a time when Narvratri garbas are sought to be turned into commercial profit-making ventures for propagating tourism.”
Among those who have signed the letter include Trupti Shah of Sahiyar Women’s Organisation (Vadodara), Nita Choksi of Sangini (Vadodara), Sofia Khan of Safar (Ahmedabad), Sushil Prajapati of Action Aid (Ahmedabad), Nita Hardikar of Anandi (Rajkot), Priti Soni of Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan, Latifa Giteli of Alfasal Education Trust (Godhra), Priti Jha of Peace and Equity Cell (Ahmedabad), Rohit Prajapati of Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (Vadodara), and social activists Rajal Chattopadhyay and Prasad Chakko.
The letter says, while the state home department has issued an order saying that it would “strictly deal with those who do not allow individuals to enter into garba premises in the name of religion”, efforts are lacking to ensure that this does not happen.
“Already, attempts are being made, via social media and through the distribution of leaflets, to not to allow individuals of a particular community to enter into garba events”, it said, adding, “Already, Hindutva forces have taken upon themselves the task of not allowing persons of that community into garba premises. If this happens, it would be illegal, and it is the responsibility of the police to ensure that things are not allowed to slip like this.”
Suggesting that all this is merely leading to the creation of even more communal hatred, the letter says, “This is merely creating an atmosphere of terror among young boys and girls. We hope that you agree that criminals have no religion, and whoever perpetrates all this is brought to books.”
Particularly taking strong exception to the term “Love Jihad”, the letter said, “The entire effort is to create a feeling of fear and anxiety among the parents about what would happen in case their daughters to go to garba, which last till late at night.” Calling this a reflection of the patriarchal mindset, the letter said, “Instead of making efforts to ensure security of girls, these forces are seeking to put restrictions on them.”
Pointing out that some political forces are seeking to take advantage of all this, the letter says, all this is “against the very spirit of the Indian constitution, which provides full rights to any adult to enter into marriage relationship with the person of another religion.” It adds, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi says that communal and caste divisions are “hurdles in the way to development, elements like Adityanath, Pravin Togadia and other leaders are behaving as if women are the private property of their faith.”

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