Skip to main content

Incentivizing cops? Love jihad cases fabricated to 'implicate' Muslim youth: NGO team

Neha Dabhade*

Recently, Maya (name changed) went to the Gotri police station in Vadodara, known for being cultural capital of Gujarat. Maya was facing domestic violence at home at the hands of her husband, Sameer Abdul Qureshi. The police instead filed a case under the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021 against Qureshi for forcefully converting Maya and marrying her.
This is increasingly becoming the fate of inter-faith couples in Indian States where anti-conversion laws are passed, restricting inter-faith marriages and incarcerating Muslim men under the false propaganda of “love jihad”. However, caught in this web of propaganda under the aegis of a discriminating ideology seeking to criminalize young Muslim men and contributing to Muslim othering, the women face the prospect of their marriages being ripped apart and their agency systematically undermined. Maya too has a similar story.
She never imagined that her visit to the police station to file a complaint on account of domestic violence would result in harrowing turn of events –false and even obscene allegations against her husband, figment of imagination of the police, in weaving together a false case and narrative in total disregard of the facts stated by Maya in her complaint and the arrest of her husband under this draconian law.
A fact-finding committee consisting of social activists Hozefa Ujjaini, Samina Malek, Khairunnisha Pathan and Kherunnisha Saiyyad visited Vadodara and unearthed the facts of the case. They also obtained copies of the FIR filed by the police and affidavit filed by Maya refuting the allegations in the FIR.
The FIR filed by the police (yes, police, not the complainant), states the following facts: Maya was befriended in February 2019 by Sameer Abdul Qureshi over social media where he faked his identity as Sam Martin, leading Maya to believe that he is Christian. Later he forcefully took Maya to a hotel room and forced her against her will to have oral and unnatural sex with her. During these repeated sexual encounters, he clicked nude pictures of Maya without her knowledge.
He threatened Maya to make these pictures viral. During these repeated forced sexual encounters, Sameer impregnated Maya thrice. On two occasions, he made her abort the foetus by consuming oral medicines and on the third occasion since the pregnancy was in an advanced stage; he took her to the hospital to undergo the abortion procedure. Soon later, he took Maya to a religious place and converted her forcefully into Islam and changed her name to Suhanabanu. He forcefully performed Nikah with her.
So far this narrative fits perfectly well with the imagery carefully and doggedly cultivated by Hindutva proponents of the “lascivious” and “virile” Muslim men who lure and rape Hindu women in order to convert them into Islam. It’s an age old trope which situates women’s bodies in the central body politic of communalism- women as war spoils devoid of agency and self determination. Maya in this instance was allegedly converted by force after being sexually exploited.
The FIR further states that Maya went to live with Sameer and his parents in their house. She was harassed after the marriage too and she was not allowed to practice her religion but forced to follow the faith she was converted to. When she refused to follow the religion of Sameer and his family, casteist abuses were hurled on her. According to the FIR, the in-laws too were physically abusing her. Her life was allegedly threatened and she was facing severe physical and mental trauma.
The above narrative depicts a grim picture of depravity. It makes us believe how Hindu women are indeed being lured by Muslim men through social media, fall prey to fake identity and eventually raped and converted. However, when Maya obtained a copy of the FIR, she was shocked to read the narrative written in the FIR which she found completely false. She was compelled to file an affidavit in the court to tell her version of facts.
In the affidavit, Maya’s version paints an entirely different picture from the one of the FIR. She states that she befriended Sameer Qureshi through Instagram in February 2019. Though the account name showed ‘Sam Martin Rider’ on instagram, she affirms that below that the ID ‘Sameer Qureshi’ was clearly mentioned.
Thus, she was aware that Sameer was a Muslim. They became friends and started meeting often. This resulted in a love affair. She goes on to say that they used to frequently go to hotels and have sexual intercourse which was consensual and out of their own free will. She was not forced into having sexual intercourse.
She admits that she became pregnant and underwent abortion out of her own will since Sameer was underage and couldn’t marry her yet. She feared defamation if her pregnancy came to light and thus took oral medication to abort the foetus. Sameer didn’t force her to abort. The second time she was pregnant, they went to the hospital for abortion where again Sameer hadn’t forced her.
She categorically refuted the allegations that Sameer forcefully had sex with her, took her naked pictures and threatened to make them viral. She called these allegations utter lies in the affidavit. She further affirms that she didn’t make any of these allegations in the FIR filed by the police.
She further clarifies that Sameer’s identity was not hidden from her family. Sameer used to frequently come to her parents’ house to meet her and talk to her parents. He was aware that they belonged to the Dalit caste and they were aware that he was a Muslim. When Sameer came of age, Maya and Sameer got married in front of their families with their blessings.
They first performed Nikah and then married in the court under the Special Marriage Act. In fact her parents signed as witnesses in the court. Their marriage certificate states that they got married under the Special Marriage Act. Three weeks later, Nikah was performed.
Neeraj Jain from the Hindu Jagran Manch has been pursuing this case with the police. Ironically, he claims that he was approached by Maya’s family because they were not aware of Sameer’s real identity! In the backdrop of Maya’s marriage certificate and her affidavit, this seems incredulous but not entirely surprising.
Hindutva vigilante organizations have embraked on a witch hunt and reach out to and most of the times pressurize the families of the women to file false complaints. Hindutva organizations are thriving given that very few are punished for their vigilante acts -- be it lynching or acting as moral squads or “anti-romeo” squads which have ideological blessings of the regime and sometimes overt support.
Neeraj Jain incidentally along with other members of the Hindu Jagran Manch is named in the FIR by Anand police pertaining to the Khambhat violence which has named members of the Hindu Jagran Manch for illegally organizing a gathering and delivering provocative speeches in 2020.
Maya’s affidavit also out rightly refutes charges that her in laws were mentally harassing her. Maya affirms that Sameer’s family treated her well. However, since they belonged to different religions, there were some cultural differences that arose between them. These differences led to arguments and fights.
She got upset and went back to her parent’s house. She went to file a complaint against her husband for physical and mental abuse. She vehemently denies that her complaint had anything to do with religious conversion or forced sexual relationship.
The discussion on anti-conversion laws often misses the most crucial point: That of women and their voices
She also clarified that neither Sameer nor his family hurled any casteist slurs on her. In the affidavit, she has expressed her shock on seeing the copy of the FIR which leveled false charges against Sameer and his family which defames them and her. In fact she goes on to state in the affidavit that she still loves her husband and wants to live with him. She urges the police to withdraw the charges in the FIR against Sameer and his family. Maya has in fact approached the High Court to quash the FIR.
What does this case tells us? It tells us that inspite of the findings of the SIT in Kanpur and NIA investigating inter-faith marriages where no evidence was found of criminal design, the cauldron of communalism has been deliberately kept boiling by the ruling regime.
Not only does it serve the purpose of firmly embedding a malicious narrative in public imagination, but it is also incentivizing the police to blatantly fabricate false cases against Muslim youth. Wherever the police come across inter-faith couples, the police are arbitrarily booking the Muslim men through draconian laws like the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021 by concocting their own narratives.
These narratives have no grain of truth and stand contrary to what the women have to say. For instance, staggering 63 FIRs were filed under Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021 till 8th July. Out of the 63 cases, seven cases were closed after no evidence was found against the accused. Around 80 are behind bars in these cases.
The question that then arises is why the police reacting in such a manner? The police so to say are toeing the ideological line drawn by their political bosses. The passing of the anti-conversion legislations and bringing inter-faith marriages under its ambit is lending legitimacy to the propaganda of “love jihad” and unleashing a legal weapon for witch hunt of Muslims.
The police too are aware of it. In order to align with the ideological agenda of the ruling regime and all it’s worth in terms of patronage and promotions, the police is going out of its way to bring Muslim youth in the ambit of the law even if it means by concocting far fledged false stories. In Maya’s case from a legal point of view, the law is applied retrospectively- the marriage took place nearly three months before the Gujarat Freedom of religion Amendment Act 2021 came in force on June 15, 2021.
It’s not uncommon that upright police personnel who discharge their duty with utmost integrity and impartiality are in fact penalized by their political bosses resulting in what are called as ‘punishment postings’. Thus the answer to the acts of the police lies in the very structure- discriminatory laws to fulfill an exclusionary political agenda.
The discussion on anti-conversion laws often misses the most crucial point: That of women and their voices. Women’s agency is brutally usurped in such cases is a moot point. However, such laws have other implications too. In a misogynist society like India where domestic violence is rampant across castes, religions and class denominations, such blatant fabrication by the police will deter victims of domestic violence to seek remedy under the law.
The fear that the system will somehow twist the woman’s complaint to entrap her husband will largely lurk in the conscience of the women. They might sadly prefer to be victims of domestic violence than to get ensnarled into the complicated web of politically motivated cases which will destroy their marriages altogether.
In the case of Maya she very clearly states that she still loves Sameer and wants to live with him. And most women like in the case of Maya want this option. However, these laws only result in infantilizing women and their voices. This law portends entrenchment of location of women as possession of families and communities- not as entities having independent legal rights.
In conclusion, one can only hope that there is a deeper circumspection of these laws and all its implications. The concerned police officials should face legal proceedings to break this system of incentives to criminalize Muslim men. Also the question of women’s agency begs for larger debates across political spectrum by recognizing that such laws are essentially misogynist and only pretend to “protect” them, yet again a patriarchal assumption.
---
*Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai

Comments

Does-not-matter said…
What about large no. of cases where girl herself files the complaint that man faked religious identity and then forced her to convert?

TRENDING

What's behind public sector banks showing huge profits in 2nd quarter of 2022-23?

By Thomas Franco*  The quarter two results of the public sector banks (PSBs) appear to be noteworthy compared to a few years ago. All these banks showed good profits in the financial year 2021-22. Twelve PSBs made a net profit of Rs 25,685 crore in quarter 2 of FY23 and a total of Rs 40,991 crore in the first half of 2023. The combined profit of 12 banks in March 2022 was Rs 66,539 crore which was 110% more than 2021 – Rs. 31,816 crore. The Asset Quality Review of 2015 saw a surge in NPAs of PSBs jumping to Rs 8.96 lakh crore in March 2018 from Rs 2.17 lakh crore in March 2014. This was simply because the norms for NPAs were changed from 180 days to 90 days, and all restructuring of even genuine accounts was done away with. In 2018 NPA of SBI was 5.73% which has come down to 0.8% in Q2 of FY23. The NPA of Canara Bank has come down to 2.19% from 7.48% in Mar 2018. The same trend is seen in all public banks. Now SBI has seen a jump of 74% in its net profit, while Canara Bank’s profit is

World Toilet Day 2022: Will new schemes usher in safe cities for India's sanitation workers?

By Sameer Unhale, Dr Simi Mehta, Dr Arjun Kumar, Kushagra Khatri*  World Toilet Day is held every year on November 19. It has been an annual United Nations observance since 2013, which celebrates toilets and raises awareness of the 3.6 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation. It is about taking action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: Water and Sanitation for All. The SDG 6.2 is the world’s promise to ensure safe toilets for all by 2030. This year, the theme is "Let’s make the invisible visible." India, in its endeavour to achieve health, hygiene, and cleanliness along with universal sanitation coverage, launched the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) (SBM-U) or Clean India Mission in 2014 on the birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation – Mahatma Gandhi (October 2), as a national movement. To ameliorate urban sanitation infrastructure, the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (A

Odisha dolphin tourism victim of climate change, prawn farming, infra projects

By Sudhansu R Das*  Nature has blessed Odisha with a vibrant natural sector economy. The forestry, handicraft, handloom, fishery, agriculture, animal husbandry, tourism, pilgrim tourism and horticulture sectors etc can create huge employment and revenue in the state on a sustainable basis. The state needs to develop a sound economic vision to harness the benefits from the natural sectors. Construction of infrastructure projects with investment though generates revenue and ticks the GDP growth; there is no guarantee that it would create inclusive employment opportunities. Today infrastructure projects are like consumer items which are being marketed by middlemen and global traders across the world. Many countries have been ruined due to their obsession with infrastructure driven growth illusion. Recently, the Sri Lankan economy has collapsed due to this illusion. It has created a heavy loan burden on the country whose interest the country can’t repay in the next 50 years. Many infra

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Business back to normal? IIM-A survey says, sales expectations have sharply improved

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management’s Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES), which polls a panel of business leaders to find out their perception of slack in economy, including their inflation expectations, year-ahead cost expectations and the factors influencing price changes, such as profit and sales levels, etc., has said that the cost perceptions data indicates signs of moderation in price pressures. Carried out for September, the survey says, the cost pressure of the reporting firms has shifted from “very significant increase (over 6%) to moderate increase (3.1% to 6%).” It adds, “The percentage of firms perceiving over 10% cost increase y-o-y has declined. Over 21% of the firms in September 2022 round of the survey perceive that costs have increased very significantly (over 10%) – down from 26% recorded in August 2022.” Claiming to be a unique survey, in that it goes straight to businesses -- the price setters -- rather than to consumers or household

Innovative, Hrishikesh Mukherjee's movies often banked on excessive sentimentalism

By Harsh Thakor*  Late Hrishikesh Mukherjee more popularly known as Hrishi Da, whose birth centenary was celebrated recently, ranks amongst India’s most progressive and innovative film makers, exhibiting mastery in craft of making socially relevant themes. Mukherjee knitted plots together with great visualisation and sensitivity, be it in comedy, pathos, anger or romance, weaving every ingredient in proper proportion.  Melodrama was restrained and scripts dissected with surgical skill. Without over romanticisation, Mukherjee would do complete justice to the role of the character. He did not champion art films, but gave commercial films an artistic touch. Rarely have artists transcended the medium of cinema to project the real essence of their cultural values so or film directors who narrate a simple tale of regular families that have characters of unique shades, characters which are bound to touch human emotions universally. His characters frequently underwent life-changing journeys

GoI's productivity linked incentives to corporates 'without independent analysis'

Counterview Desk  Wondering how prudent is the Government of India's (GoI's) Productivity Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme, EAS Sarma, former secretary, GoI, in a representation to Nirmala Sitharaman, Union finance minister, has said it appears to be nothing more than subsidy to the private sector without any responsibility. Giving a specific example against the backdrop of announcement of 50% subsidy covering the project cost of the Vedanta Group's decision to set up a semiconductor fabrication plant in Gujarat, in collaboration with Foxconn, Sarma says, "The total cost of this project is reported to be Rs 1,54,000 crore. 50% of this works out to Rs 77,000 crore." Stating that this creates the impression that the entire subsidy allocation for the semiconductor manufacturing sector would be appropriated by this company, Sarma says, "The Gujarat government did not lag behind in liberally announcing similar incentives for the Vedanta-Foxconn project. It offered 7

Parivarnama: A story of love, challenges, sorrow of family 'devastated' by Partition

By Aditya Mukherjee*  “Parivarnama” by Shehla Hashmi Grewal is a riveting account of a family of Delhi from the late 19th century to the present. Through the story of this family, we are taken on a journey through the atrocities of British rule and the resistance against it by the Indian national movement and the left stream within it, the traumatic events leading to the virulent spread of religious communalism and the partition of the country and the destruction of lives and livelihoods, the challenges and travails of building a new life after the old was destroyed, trying to build a secular society in India after independence, the struggles for social and economic justice in independent India leading to the martyrdom of a very distinguished young member of the family and much more. It is not only a very sensitively written history of a family, it is a social and political history of India through some of its most turbulent periods. “Parivarnama” combines what one gets from meaningfu

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.