Every great love story in the world celebrates the love that breaks barriers of class, caste, creed, and defies narrow social prejudices and restrictions. The saffron campaign warning Hindu girls against ‘love Jihad’ goes against the spirit of love, freedom and rights. It is a hate story, not a love story.
The centrepiece of the BJP’s and Sangh Parivar’s vicious ‘love-jehad’ campaign has just been exposed as a lie. The young woman in Meerut, who was supposedly a victim of ‘love jehad’, has approached the police with the truth. And the truth is that she was in fact a victim of the patriarchal pressures of family and society and the conspiracy of the communal political forces.
As a Hindu woman who fell in love with and was pregnant by a Muslim man, she faced the ire of her family and community. And this all too familiar situation was exploited by the politics of communal hatred. A love story was twisted into a hate-story to feed the myth of ‘love jehad’. Love, elopement, and marriage were distorted to claim rape and forced conversion. And as a result, 10 innocent persons including suffered arrest and jail, and the young woman herself has faced immense coercion and intimidation. She revealed that tghe BJP paid a large sum of money to her father, to ‘encourage’ him to pressurize her to brand her relationship as ‘love jehad’. After the girl escaped from her home and revealed the truth to the police, her father said he would agree to the marriage. But a Hindutva outfit, said they would not ‘permit’ a ‘Hindu beti (daughter)’ to a Muslim man!
In fact, her testimony shows that her lover Kaleem had not only had no problems with her remaining a Hindu, he had fallen in love with her because she was independent. And she in turn had loved him because of his support for her aspirations. Her friend Puja is also happily married to a Muslim man Shariq. When young men in rural/semi-urban Western UP fall in love with women admiring the latter’s independence, when young people ignore caste and religious divides to fall in love, it holds out hope for the country.
The Sangh Parivar’s hate-campaign seeks to snuff out this hope. And it victimises women as much as it does minorities – and the Meerut case itself is a classic example of this.
Love is Not Rape
In patriarchal societies, consensual love between men and women of different castes, communities or classes is often branded as rape by the woman’s parents. A recent study of rape trials in Delhi showed that a whopping 40 per cent of rape complaints in Delhi are actually filed by parents of girls or women who have eloped with a lover. In all these cases, the actual violence faced by the woman had been at the hands of her own family and community, in the name of ‘honour’. And of course, the ‘honour’ killings of lovers who break caste and community barriers continue to abound in India.
Alok Dhanwa wrote – ‘How visible the shackles of the home become/When a girl runs away from home’. Truly, in our society, girls are forced to run away to love and marry, because homes are often like jails for them. Girls and boys are both are killed for the ‘crime’ of loving in defiance of caste and creed. Inter-caste, inter-community and same-sex love stories so often end up tragedies since they end in ‘honour’ killings or suicide.