“Love Jihad”, a Licence to Harass. The Stories of Torture & Miscarriage Show Us the Horror that the Law Unleashes

Social Commentary

“Love Jihad”, a Licence to Harass. The Stories of Torture & Miscarriage Show Us the Horror that the Law Unleashes

Illustration: Arati Gujar

During the debate around the controversial “love jihad” law, critics had pointed out that it was open to rampant abuse by the administration and would lead to arbitrary intervention and harassment of consenting adults. As the first few cases start to get recorded under the new law, they have been proven right.

A young woman named Pinki, arrested in a case of “love jihad” in Uttar Pradesh has alleged torture by authorities and claimed that she was administered injections at a district hospital that led to her miscarriage. She is the first woman to be detained under the UP Prohibition Of Unlawful Conversion Of Religion Ordinance 2020. After a complaint by Bajrang Dal workers, the 22-year-old was sent to a shelter home and her husband and brother-in-law were sent to jail.

“I was tortured at the Nari Niketan for three days after which I developed abdominal pain. First they didn’t listen to me but when my condition got serious they took me to the hospital, and after which doctors gave me injections. Once the injections were administered, I started bleeding heavily. After two days, four injections were given to me along with some medicine post which heavy bleeding started,” Pinki told reporters.

Pinki told the CJM court in Moradabad that she was an adult when she married Rashid, and it was based on her own wish. She appealed that her husband and brother-in-law be released immediately. The court pulled up the cops for taking discretionary action in the case. The cops were acting on a complaint filed by the girl’s mother, according to news reports.

The courts in India have time and again emphasised on the right to choose a life partner, irrespective of religion.

On the day that Rashid and Pinki were going to get their marriage registered, Bajrang Dal activists handed her over to the cops. Imagine one of the happiest days of your life being ruined by men who have no concern with your marriage. The torture doesn’t end there. After that comes the unnecessary legal battle to clear your name.

The “love jihad” law is unconstitutional. The courts in India have time and again emphasised on the right to choose a life partner, irrespective of religion. Plus, this law also infringes on other fundamental rights like the right to privacy.  What’s worse is that after Uttar Pradesh, other states – Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Karnataka – are eager to implement it.

The template is set for chaos and harassment. The law is also misogynistic – it undermines a woman’s capability to decide for herself. Parents who might not approve of their adult daughter’s marriage could file cases against the Muslim husband and family. Based on these accusations, the cops will have to act, sometimes even disrupting wedding functions and ceremonies. Add to that, religious groups who are invested in furthering their divise agenda, making frivolous complaints based on rumours and hearsay. Couples will be harassed, cases will be filed and the damage would have already been done by the time overburdened courts can find the time to hear every matter and pass judgement. Conflict has been nefariously introduced into inter-faith marriages in the guise of protecting adult women who have made choices for themselves that some members in society disapprove of.

The law needs to go. As Member of Parliament from Basirhat Nusrat Jahan reminded us, “Love and Jihad, do not go hand in hand.”

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