Skip to main content

UP govt 'resurrects' venom of curbing Love Jihad from buried casket with vengeance

Akash Singrodia*

Are you an adult and thinking of getting married? Do you believe you have the freedom to marry the partner of your choice, even if he/she is from a different caste? If you think the answer to this question is ‘Yes’ on the premise of the fundamental rights granted by the Indian Constitution, then your beliefs are soon going to be shattered.
The Yogi Adityanath-led UP government’s ordinance, promulgated on November 24, 2020, indirectly banning marriage for religious conversion and seeking to criminalize Interfaith marriages in the Uttar Pradesh, states, “No person shall convert or attempt to convert, any other person from one religion to another through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage”.
It also says that any religious conversion for marriage would require the approval of the District Magistrate, who would in turn has to give the public an opportunity to voice their objections against such conversion, thus paving the way for the religion watchdogs (read: right-wing parties) to poke their noses and prevent inter-caste marriages.
For the time being, let us keep the government’s personal agenda to side and spare a thought on the fact whether this ordinance is even constitutionally valid? If you were to ask me, the UP Government has clearly shown the audacity to rise even above the esteemed Constitution of India. Here’s why:
First, marriage is an extremely personal affair and the right to marry someone of your choice is not only a matter of constitutional liberty and individual autonomy, but also of privacy and dignity. Article 21 of the Constitution of India grants an individual the fundamental right of privacy and protects his/her ability to make intimate choices and decisions.
Even in the Hadiya case of 2018, Supreme Court rejected the allegation that was forcefully converted to another religion just for the sake of marriage, and held that “How Hadiya chooses to lead her life is entirely a matter of her choice”.
Secondly, the proposed ordinance aims to deprive a woman of her agency and tries to control her female sexuality. The ordinance is based on the dull-witted premise that women are incapable of making informed decisions and could easily fall prey to forced conversions. The proposed ordinance would only manifest itself into the harassment of interfaith couples, putting our constitutional democracy to bad light.
Now that we have some idea about the ‘lawlessness of this law’, let us bring back our attention to what might be the government’s real agenda behind this. Hiding on the back of protecting women against forced religious conversion as an evil pretext, the government aims to resurrect its old venom of curbing ‘Love Jihad’ from the buried casket. This time with vengeance.
‘Love Jihad’ is a popular concept steeped in Hindu religious conspiracy theories, arguing that Indian Muslim men are waging a war against the Hindu population by enticing and marrying young innocent Hindu girls. This alleged war is said to reach its culmination when these Hindu girls are forcibly converted to Islam after marriage, thereby increasing the numbers of Muslims and reducing the number of Hindus in the country. The argument is baseless and can be challenged on two grounds:
Firstly, it implies that Hindu-Muslim marriage is nothing but an ‘execution a conspiracy’, rather than two consenting adults exercising their fundamental right to choose their partners.
Secondly, Love Jihad applies only in the case of a Muslim man marrying a Hindu woman and no objections are made to a Hindu man marrying a Muslim woman. This also makes the idea behind the ordinance deeply communal.
The UP ordinance is based on the dull-witted premise that Hindu women are incapable of making informed decisions and could easily fall prey to forced conversions
Not only the intent behind the law is subject to questionable intelligence, but also the provisions framed therein seem vague and far distant to any meaningful logic. But rationality is again a far-fetched expectation from the right-wing Government. Let us take Section 12 of the proposed ordinance as an example. It disturbingly allows ‘any relative of the Hindu woman’ to challenge the legitimacy of her marriage.
Not only that, the ordinance states that ‘reverse burden of proof’ would apply in this case, implying that the person who has facilitated or caused the conversion (read: Muslim man) has to prove that the conversion was lawful and not forced, while disregarding the converted person’s (read: Hindu girl’s) testimony of having given his/her consent to the conversion and marriage.
This directly violates the right to be deemed innocent until proven guilty. Simply creating mechanisms for hassle-free filing of a complaint by the ‘converted’ against a forced conversion, could have solved the problem without troubling the constitutional muster.
The question here reverberates far more from the above tyranny. This highlights the orthodox and deep-seated patriarchal Hindu mindset, where a woman is regarded as little more than cattle who is handed over from her parents to her husband, with little regard in this decision-making. 
This communal disharmony not only fails to protect women’s rights, but rather it further encourages the curtailment of their, free-will, mobility, consent, autonomy, civil liberties, social interactions, and freedom of choice.
The opinion placed in this article might seem biased and deceitful, but reality has started unfolding itself within a week of the ordinance being passed. A group of hecklers from the Bajrang Dal forcibly separated a seven-week pregnant Hindu woman from her Muslim husband on grounds of alleged forcible conversion, mistreated her while she was in custody and this led to the unfortunate demise of her baby, due to no fault of the couple.
Six more cases have been reported just within a week of passing of this controversial law. Further, if a person is found guilty of violating this law, he/she may be imprisoned upto ten years, with offences being non-bailable.
The law is not only regressive, oppressive and ultra vires of the Indian Constitution, but is also brimming with legal blunders, virtually indicating that its real intent was to harass people so much, that religious conversion per se is automatically discouraged. Although the law has understandably not used the words ‘Love Jihad’, but it is not difficult to conclude the actual political agenda behind it.
---
*Second year PGP student at Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad

Comments

TRENDING

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

Stagnating wages since 2014-15: Economists explain Modi legacy for informal workers

By Our Representative  Real wages have barely risen in India since 2014-15, despite rapid GDP growth. The country’s social security system has also stagnated in this period. The lives of informal workers remain extremely precarious, especially in states like Jharkhand where casual employment is the main source of livelihood for millions. These are some of the findings presented by economists Jean Drèze and Reetika Khera at a press conference convened by the Loktantra Bachao 2024 campaign. 

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Joblessness, saffronisation, corporatisation of education: BJP 'squarely responsible'

Counterview Desk  In an open appeal to youth and students across India, several student and youth organizations from across India have said that the ruling party is squarely accountable for the issues concerning the students and the youth, including expensive education and extensive joblessness.

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Following the 3000-year old Pharaoh legacy? Poll-eve Surya tilak on Ram Lalla statue

By Sukla Sen  Located at a site called Abu Simbel in Nubia, Upper Egypt, the eponymous rock temples were created in 1244 BCE, under the orders of Pharaoh Ramesses II (1303-1213 BC)... Ramesses II was fond of showcasing his achievements. It was this desire to brag about his victory that led to the planning and eventual construction of the temples (interestingly, historians say that the Battle of Qadesh actually ended in a draw based on the depicted story -- not quite the definitive victory Ramesses II was making it out to be).

Why it's only Modi ki guarantee, not BJP's, and how Varanasi has seen it up-close

"Development" along Ganga By Rosamma Thomas*  I was in Varanasi in this April, days before polling began for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. There are huge billboards advertising the Member of Parliament from Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The only image on all these large hoardings is of the PM, against a saffron background. It is as if the very person of Modi is what his party wishes to showcase.