RASHMI OBEROI | 14 SEPTEMBER, 2014
We Are… ‘Love Jihadis’
Yes, I come from a family that has a long line of love marriages that are both a mix of Interfaith and Inter-caste marriages. Thus, I have been told, that we ‘fall’ into the so-called category of the ‘Love Jihadis’ or whatever this nonsensical word is that is being floated around these days.
I am deeply troubled by this word...by the hysteria it has generated...by the way we Indians have reacted to this. Where have we gone wrong and why have we all forgotten that we are Indians first and that we come from a rich history that boasts of a diverse culture. Have we no tolerance for religious diversity?
The Hindutva storm being created... Fatwas being issued... Religious sentiments being stirred... Callous statements being made... Endless ranting by imbeciles. And this has led to nothing but negative propaganda, a dreadful mess and a remorseful state of affairs. Communal tensions flare up at the drop of a hat. Most being instigated by those that bask in stirring up religious hatred.
I would like to ask the ‘small-minded’ and ‘uneducated’ zealots and hardliners one question though? When you fall in love, do you first check to see what religion or ethnicity the person belongs to or do you fall in love with the person for what he/she is?
I am very proud of my family history and background and always boast about it. In fact, I make no bones about it. I come from a very illustrious family line of supposedly ‘Love Jihadis’ as being propagated these days.
My Grandfather, the Late Major General Dinkar Rao Appasaheb Surve, a staunch Maratha married my Grandmother, Najmunissa Shaikh. She came from a very orthodox Muslim family. You can imagine the waves this created during those times and a century that wasn’t so broad-minded and therefore it even made headlines in the newspapers. But it was accepted and a decision that was respected and the couple were looked up to and always quoted as an example to others.
Later, my Uncle Deelip married Fawzia. My mother, Daulat, married my Dad, a Hindu. The next generation were all ‘Love Jihadis’ as well. Aaah, such a ‘Love Jihadi’ family. Right!!
My cousin, Imraan married Minal, a Sindhi. Later, another Muslim cousin married a Maharashtrian. Yes, yes... We are ‘like this only’. My sister, Manisha is married to Dalbir, who is a Sikh. My cousin Rahul, is married to Mrinal, a Maharashtrian. My cousin sister, Gayatri, is married to Anil, a Kashmiri. A ‘Gorkha’ seems just about perfect for me I reckon! So here you have it.
I am a ‘cocktail’ and I am serious when I say this... I am actually quite uncomfortable when I am quizzed about... What religion I am? What state do I belong to? I mean, I am an Indian first and foremost. I have lived all over India, travelling from one place to another and I respect all religions. I am happy and content sitting in a Church, visiting a Gurudwara, offering prayers in a Temple and seeking blessings at the Ajmer Sharif Dargah. I am at peace in all of them. We forget that each one of us has the right to follow and choose what we want and that no one can force us to do or follow anything that we don’t want to. It is that simple.
I have a Muslim friend with a Christian wife... As I do a Hindu friend with a Muslim husband. What is the big deal, really? Have we become so intolerant to other’s beliefs or have we just turned into a condescending and frightfully judgemental generation?