Interfaith marriages are rare. Many believe the spectre of love jihad is resurrected from time to time by Hindu groups for political gains. That such strident campaigns against interfaith unions have a long and chequered history in India is well-documented. In the backdrop of rising religious tensions in the s and s, Hindu nationalist groups in parts of northern India launched a campaign against "kidnapping" of Hindu women by Muslim men and demanded the recovery of their Hindu wives.
Ina court allowed Gidl Jahan who converted to Islam and married a Muslim man to live with her husband A Hindu group was set up in Muslimm Provinces now Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous gidl to prevent Muslims from allegedly kidnapping Hindu women.
Ina Muslim bureaucrat in the city of Kanpur was accused of "abducting and seducing" a Hindu girl and forcefully converting her. A Hindu group demanded the "recovery" of the woman from the bureaucrat's house. Marriagw abduction of Hindu women was even debated in parliament in colonial India.
The Indian National Congress, now the main opposition party, passed a resolution saying that "women who have been abducted and forcibly married must be restored to their houses; mass conversions have no ificance or validity and people must be given every opportunity to return to marriagge life of adeladie choice". When India was partitioned into two separate states in Augustone million died and 15 million were displaced as Muslims fled to Pakistan, and Hindus and Sikhs headed in the opposite direction.
Women often bore the brunt of the violence, creating another deep fault-line. In recent times Hindu nationalist groups have raised the bogey of "love jihad" ahead of elections to polarise voters. One instance was during local elections in Uttar Pradesh in Prof Gupta says Hindu groups launched an "orchestrated propaganda campaign", using posters, rumours and gossip, against the "supposed abductions and conversion of Hindu women by Muslim men, ranging from allegations of mardiage and forced marriage, to elopement, love, luring and conversion".
Runaway couples live under police protection in shelter homes Mouthpieces of the right-wing Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh RSSthe BJP's ideological fountainhead, carried cover stories on "love jihad" and urged people to raise the slogan "love for ever, love jihad never! It was not only the stereotyping of the Muslim male that fed the narrative.
There were rumours about mslim "global Islamist conspiracy" to lure Hindu women. It was alleged that Muslim men were receiving funds from abroad to purchase expensive clothes and cars and gifts and kuslim posing as Hindus to woo Hindu women.
Want sexy meeting
All this was an "attempt at political and religious mobilisation in the name of women", according to Prof Gupta. There are striking similarities between the 'love jihad' campaigns of the past and present, say scholars. But with time, the campaign has been more forceful as it has been led by the ruling BJP. There were no mainstream parties or leaders mslim such tensions.
Now it is a front- subject and the state is critically involved in enforcing these laws. Social media and messaging services are being used to spread the message that Muslim men are forcibly converting Hindu women for marriage," says Prof Gupta.
Muslim's conversion conflict hits vatican on easter
Many say conversions happen when couples opt for a religious marriage to "escape" India's Special Marriage Act, which allows interfaith marriages only after a month's notice to the authorities containing the couple's personal details. So couples fear that their families will intervene to prevent the wedding. Introducing laws to restrict choices consenting interfaith adults make about their partners now introduces a culture of fear which both parents and authorities can adeelaide to warn young people.
On the other hand, more and more men and women are also braving caste and religious divides to fall in love and break away from their families. Many are finding shelter in state-run safe-houses at a time when the state itself is trying to clamp down on such unions.