In a Pandemic With Rising Unemployment, What’s Most Important? A Legal Solution to “Love Jihad”

Social Commentary

In a Pandemic With Rising Unemployment, What’s Most Important? A Legal Solution to “Love Jihad”

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

There are plenty of problems that need addressing in India in 2020. There’s the rising unemployment, the crashing economy, and the small matter of a global pandemic. But still, some state governments seem more set on tackling an issue that may not even exist at all: “Love jihad”. The term refers to a widely shared fear among the BJP’s right wing support base that Muslim men seek out Hindu girls and force them to convert before marrying them. Now, in Karnataka, the state’s Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that the ruling party was considering introducing a law to stamp out this “social evil”, as he referred to interfaith marriages.

Bommai’s statements follow those of Karnataka’s Tourism and Culture Minister, CT Ravi. Earlier this week, Ravi tweeted “Karnataka will enact a law banning religious conversions for the sake of marriage. We will not remain silent when jihadis strip the dignity of our sisters.” Now Bommai has thrown his weight behind the sentiment as well, and Karnataka joins Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Madhya Pradesh (all currently under BJP-led governments) in the list of states that are looking to find a legal solution to “love jihad”.

In Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Adityanath said that his government was working on a stringent law to curb “love jihad”. Adityanath made the statement in reference to a ruling by the Allahabad High Court, which said that religious conversion only for the sake of marriage is not valid. The Allahabad High Court was dismissing a plea by a couple seeking police protection, as the woman’s family was threatening them after she converted to Hinduism to marry her husband. This turn of events in UP has emboldened politicians in Karnataka as well to take up the fight against “love jihad”.

In a nation as diverse as India, interfaith marriages being viewed with such suspicion only leads to divisions among society. But it appears that certain politicians are committed to the notion of aggravating things further.