2 December 2020 06:20 PM



Judiciary Expresses Serious Concern over “Love Jihad” as Mobs Prowl Villages of West UP for Targets

Courts take note of petition for banning BJP MP Adityanath from campaigning in UP

NEW DELHI: “Love Jihad’ has become the fig leaf for communal terrorisation in the villages of western Uttar Pradesh with both Muslims and Christians being targeted for forcible ‘re-conversions’ even as warnings are issued to religious communities not to entertain any thought of inter-communal love or marriages.

Villagers who took to one or the other faith years--even decades ago--find a team of local supporters of the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad at their doors, insisting they re-convert to the Hindu faith.

Fact finding teams of activists are recording some of the incidents, as and when these come to light. Just a few days ago a large joint family of about 20 adults living in a village about 30 kilometres from Aligarh was forced in a similar fashion, to re-convert from Christianity to Hinduism by a group that “visited” their home. The family, being the only Christian family in the small village, had no choice but to agree but matters were further complicated when the mob insisted that the ‘re-conversion’ ceremony should be carried out in the church that the family had given land for. This was also done by the terrorised family, to keep the peace.

Girls are being further repressed under this slogan as was clearly indicated by the warning given by an influential committee of Vaishyas in UP to school girls to stop using cell phones, as this was an instrument making them vulnerable to ‘love jihad.’ Such diktats usually confined to khap panchayats in the rural areas, particularly western UP, the largely urban based Akhil Bharitiya Vaishya Ekta Parishad (ABVEP), traders by caste, met to ban cell phones for young girls. The meeting was attended by Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Kalraj Mishra, a BJP leader from Lucknow.

The BJP has officially dropped Love Jihad from its agenda, after discussing it at some length at its Uttar Pradesh executive meeting recently. However, as reported by The Citizen at the time, the front organisations have formed single conglomerations to take the agenda forward in particularly the communally sensitive towns and districts of western UP that have been tense, or had in recent weeks experienced full blown communal tension. Needless to say this moral policing has added to the tensions and fear amongst the minorities in particular.

A division bench of the Allahabad High Court has taken serious note of a Public Interest Litigation filed by a lawyer Pankaj Tiwari for action against BJP leaders using Love Jihad for instigating communal passions. The bench has issued notice to the UP government and the Central Election Commission giving both ten days to respond with measures taken to address these issues. The petition has specifically asked for a ban on campaigning by BJP MPs Ypogi Adityanath (see The Citizen) and Kalraj Mishra in the byelections fo the 11 Assembly constituencies and a Lok Sabha seat scheduled to be held in UP on September 13.

"ECI should be directed to ban Kalraj and Yogi from campaigning in the state in the ongoing byelections for 11 assembly seats and one parliamentary seat," Tiwari demanded in the petition.

"A high level committee to suggest measures to check the fraudulent inter-religion marriages be constituted and also steps be taken to control frequent communal violence in UP," the petitioner said. The judges said they had read the referred to media reports as well and that the remarks made by the leaders were objectionable.

"Promoting feelings of disharmony is an offence under section 125 of the Representation of People Act and also IPC offences but neither the ECI nor the State authorities are taking any action against the guilty," the petitioner maintained.

Significantly the state Samajwadi party government was not represented at the hearing. The bench was clearly irked by the non-apppearance of the five additional advocates observing, “this is such a serious matter and no AAG is present to argument the matter.” AAG Bulbul Godial arrived late saying she had got stuck in a traffic jam. The judges pulled up the state saying, “AAGs are interested only in beacon lights and not defend the state in courts.” Godial insisted she was not using beacon lights any longer.

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