NIA busts ‘Love Jihad’ myth

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The tirade against the non-existent so-called “Love Jihad” myth by the goons of the saffron brigade has fallen flat. The National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) ‘examination’ of interfaith marriages in Kerala has not unearthed any evidence of coercion that can result in prosecution in these cases. An NIA official reportedly said that while there may have been efforts to facilitate the conversion of either the man or the woman involved, there was no evidence of a larger criminal design.

The agency had looked into 11 inter-faith marriages from a list of 89 marriages that were in the law enforcement database, mostly due to complaints filed by parents. The examination was part of the enquiry ordered by the Supreme Court into cases of ‘Love Jihad’ or forceful conversion of Hindu men and women into Islam. The enquiry was ordered in the context of the Hadiya case.

Hadiya, then 24, converted to Islam and later married a Muslim, Shafin Jahan. She made it explicit that she did both of these things of her own volition, but her father filed a case against Jahan accusing him of brainwashing and coercing her to convert. In May 2017, the Kerala high court annulled the marriage of the couple and placed Hadiya in the ‘custody’ of her parents. In March 2018, the Supreme Court had overturned the high court order and restored Hadiya’s marriage with Shafin Jahan, stating that an adult woman has the freedom to make her own marital choices and the courts cannot intervene in a consensual marriage.

Hindustan Times quoting a NIA official said: “In at least one among the 11 marriages under examination was purely a matter of relationship gone sour. In most of the other cases we found that a similar set of people and organisations associated with Popular Front of India (PFI) were involved in helping either the man or the woman involved in a relationship to convert to Islam, but we didn’t find any prosecutable evidence to bring formal charges against these persons under any of the scheduled offences of the NIA, like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.”

The official said the Constitution of India had provided freedom to practice and promote religion in a peaceful manner to all citizens as a fundamental right. “Conversion is not a crime in Kerala and also helping these men and women convert is also within the ambit of the Constitution of the country.”

Meanwhile, Popular Front of India’s (PFI), legal advisor KP Muhammed Shareef has labelled the concept of love jihad a “sinister design cooked up by right wing forces” to “target the Muslim community at large” and claimed the effort was aimed at portraying the Front and (its political arm), the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), as conduit pipes for love jihad. “Umpteen investigations and enquiries conducted by various agencies have now found the allegation of love jihad is obnoxious, fictitious and without any scintilla of evidence,” said Shareef.

Among the 11 cases examined by the NIA, there were at least four cases of interfaith marriages where Hindu men embraced Islam or where efforts were made to convert them to Islam. In the rest of the cases examined by NIA, Hindu women married Muslim men. The NIA probe found that in at least three cases, efforts at conversion failed.

PFI general secretary M. Muhammed Ali Jinnah has, in a statement, stated that the NIA findings regarding the non-existence of “Love Jihad” is a triumph for truth and a big blow to the forces that survive on falsehood. After investigating the 11 cases of inter-faith marriage the NIA could not find any evidence of the planned conspiracy of forceful conversion which was hyped by the media and fascist forces as love jihad.

Earlier, the Kerala and the Karnataka police had found such allegations baseless. NIA’s latest findings reaffirm the fact that the ‘Love Jihad’ myth was a clever vicious campaign with dire and far-reaching consequences, launched by right wing Hindutva forces to create religious polarization in the society. Some sections of the media are also responsible to create the hype about love jihad and defame the Muslim community and organizations. It was also an attempt to curb the rights of an individual guaranteed by the Constitution of the country.

Hadiya was one of the victims of the campaign. It was the unique and relentless struggle for justice put up by Muslim organizations and Human Rights groups and activists that helped Hadiya get justice and freedom. Therefore, NIA’s findings are a source of relief for them all.

Though NIA has brought out the truth, it must be pointed out that the way the agency dealt with the case has caused a severe damage and disrepute to the individuals and the groups who stood for Hadiya fundamental rights as well as Muslim community at large. After the examination of 11 cases of conversion to Islam, NIA now admits that there is no conclusive evidence for “Love Jihad” and coerced conversion but unfortunately the arguments of NIA advocate in the Supreme Court were quite contrary. NIA’s stand often fell in line with that of propaganda of the right wing forces and Hadiya’s father Ashokan. It is undeniable fact that NIA’s intervention in the case delayed justice to Hadiya. The lack of transparency and the ‘sealed cover’ reports submitted by the agency in the court created mystery around the case, which catered to vicious vilification campaign against Muslim community.

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