Op-Ed: Stop The Hatemongers Before It’s Too Late
Mercifully, it has now been taken down. But that does not diminish the gravity of the situation. That a Facebook group calling itself ‘Hindutva Varta’ has the audacity to publish a list of 102 girls who, according to it, are either ‘victims of love jihad or are in the process of becoming so’ and openly calling upon the Hindu ‘lions’ to ‘hunt down’ the Muslim men who allegedly trapped them is a scary thought in a nation that has secularism as one of core founding principles.
It could have been dismissed as the work of some lunatic fringe of the Hindutva brigade had it been a ‘one off’ case. But it comes on top of a series of incidents in the recent past that paint a frightening picture of the extent to which the communal virus has infected our body politic. From Uttar Pradesh to Kerala, violent gangs have started prowling the streets looking for perpetrators of ‘love jihad’ to ‘hunt them down’. Only in December last year, a self-appointed defender of ‘Hindu honour’ Shambhulal Regar had posted a chilling video on social media that showed him first hacking and then burning down Mohammed Afrazul, a Muslim migrant labourer from Malda in West Bengal, in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan for his alleged crime of ‘love jihad’. It just goes to show that the exhortations by groups like ‘Hindutva Varta’ and the people behind them are not empty threats that can be dismissed offhand.
The Hindutva brigade has convinced itself that every Muslim man marrying a Hindu woman is a case of ‘love jihad.’ The term is explained by its ideologues (if they can be called that at all) as an Islamic plot to entice gullible Hindu women and then get them to convert as part of a larger, sinister and diabolical Islamic design to reduce Hindus to a minority in the country of their birth! Had it not been so scary, it would have perhaps been downright laughable. So possessed by hatred are these dimwits that they would never understand something as pure, beautiful and unadulterated like love. So blinded by animosity towards the ‘other’ they are that they can never comprehend that love does not brook barriers of religion, caste or class. So coarsened by muck is their heart that one wonders if they can ever love anyone, even if they happen to be their wives, sisters or mothers.
But how did things come to such a pass? Where was all this hatred all these years? Why is it coming to the fore only now? How did ‘love jihad’, a little known term outside the fanatic Hindu fringe just a few years ago, become such an integral part of mainstream public discourse? The answers to all these questions lie in the ascension of the forces that spawn such thoughts to positions of power four years ago. Just as mosquitoes need filth to flourish, these dehumanized beings are prospering in an atmosphere conducive to their growth. They believe, not without reason, they can get away with arson, lynching and worse because they now have the protection of the powers that be.
Just as the conscience keepers of the nation had warned us, the slogan of ‘development’ is fast turning out to be a ruse to camouflage the larger project to convert India into a Hindu rashtra. Whether it is Union minister of state Anant Kumar Hegde calling for rewriting the Constitution, BJP leader Vinay Katiyar asking Muslims to leave India or khap panchayats in Haryana and Rajasthan threatening to ‘stop producing girls’ (it is hard to comprehend how one can do that unless the girl child is killed at birth or in the womb itself) in disdainful defiance of the Supreme Court ruling asking them to stay off adults marrying of their volition, they are all part of the regressive project to revive their mistaken notion of ‘Hindu glory.’
The most remarkable part of the Hindutva warriors against ‘love jihad’ is that their anger is strictly limited to Muslim men marrying or in love with Hindu girls and doesn’t extend to Hindu men in relationship with Muslim women. Thus Saif Ali Khan marrying Karina Kapoor is a case of love jihad but Shirish Kunder marrying Farah Khan is not. In their blinkered and obscurantist view, the latter are apparently ‘conquests’, who can compensate for all the Hindu girls ‘tricked into’ affairs with Muslim men. Like their counterparts among the Muslims, the members of the Hindutva brigade represent the worst kind of misogynist worldview where a woman is owned by the men in her life – father, brother and other male members before marriage and husband, father-in-law and other male in-laws after marriage.
Also Read: A Litany of Unanswered Questions
India has had to pay a heavy price for the blood-soaked partition that tore the soul of the nascent nation asunder. If we don’t stall these divisive forces determined to force a second vivisection of the land on religious lines, it could well mark the end of a civilization justifiably proud of its assimilative and syncretic culture that has stood the test of thousands of years.
(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)