The sensational murder of Shraddha Walkar in Delhi was a clear case of brutal killing by a person who had lived with her for years.
But a section of people specially the leaders of the ruling BJP like union minister Giriraj Singh looked at this case with religious spectacles and declared it a case of Love Jihad where a Muslim boy Aftab Poonawala established a relationship with Hindu girl Shraddha Walker.
This is not the first case which senior BJP leaders like Giriraj Singh dubbed Love Jihad. In his home state Bihar, a number of cases appeared in the public domain where Muslim youths posed as Hindu boys, befriended girls from the Hindu community and established a physical relationship. Moreover, they applied pressure on them to convert to Islam, kidnapping and forcibly making them eat beef.
A Muslim man named Umar Ali posed as Deepak Kumar, who was working in a finance company, befriended a widow in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district and established a physical relationship with her.
He also had a court marriage in January this year and stayed with her for the next seven months. After the marriage, the woman lived with Umar Ali in a rented house in a village that comes under Runni Saidpur in adjoining Sitamarhi district.
His original identity was revealed before the woman in August this year. The accused started physically assaulting the woman and her minor daughter after she objected to him and levelled allegations of breach of trust and cheating. The woman left his house and went to her parental house in Muzaffarpur with her three-year-old daughter.
Umar Ali alias Deepak came to her parent’s house and abducted her three year old daughter. The victim eventually registered an FIR against Umar Ali in a women police station of Muzaffarpur. The woman’s first husband had died in a road accident last year.
Another incident was revealed on September 8, 2022 in Bihar’s Nawada district when a person Mohammad Kalim befriended a girl by posing as Rohit Singh on Facebook. They soon get intimate and the girl eloped with him.
An FIR was registered in the women police station of Nawada and the couple was traced. When the cops interrogated Rohit Singh, he revealed his original identity which not only shocked the cops but the girl too.
An incident of Love Jihad came to light in Bihar’s Katihar district on November 19, 2022 when a Muslim youth befriended a Hindu girl on social media under a Hindu identity and then applied pressure on her to convert.
The victim named Julie (29) filed a case in the Katihar district court seeking justice in this matter. Julie is a native of Manihari block in Katihar district. She met the youth named Raj Rajput on social media platform Facebook in 2015.
The victim soon became friendly with Raj Rajput and they began having an affair. They got married in a temple later on.
“After the marriage, I requested him many times to take me to my in-laws house but he refused. When I applied pressure on him, he took me to his sister. When I reached there, I went into shock as they were Muslims. When I asked for his real identity, he said that his name is Taukir Ahmed, a native of Supaul district,” Julie said while interacting with mediapersons in Katihar.
“He had breached my trust but as I was in love with him and I also have a child, I stayed with him. Taukir, after a few years, started applying pressure on me to convert to Islam. At present, he is in Dubai for work and continuously applying pressure on me for the conversion. I complained to the local police in Maniari but they refused to register an FIR in this matter. Now, I have filed an application with the district court Katihar for justice,” Julie said.
These are some of the cases that have come in the public domain but there are many incidents which have not been registered or where the victims have compromised with the situation.
In another case two Muslim youths were brutally assaulted by a group of Bajrang Dal activists in Narkatiaganj in West Champaran district. One of the accused had a physical relationship with a Delhi based girl and he told her that he would marry her only when she came to Narkatiaganj.
The girl, who was six months pregnant, came to Narkatiaganj. The boy took her to the sub-divisional office for the court marriage but they were traced by the local unit of the Bajrang Dal. They assaulted the accused and handed him over to the police.
“Love Jihad or Romeo Jihad is a fact in Bihar and other parts of the country. The Islamic fundamentalist organisations are not only promoting it but also funding young Muslim boys to trap Hindu girls into marriage and ensure their religious conversion. India is witnessing several incident of Love or Romeo Jihad. Bihar is no exception where many incidents of Love Jihad are taking place,” said Nikhil Anand, national general secretary of the BJP OBC wing and party spokesperson.
“The tragedy in Bihar is that many cases are unreported because the Grand Alliance government doesn’t want to make it an issue in the name of secularism or Muslim appeasement politics,” Anand said.
“Bordering areas especially in Seemanchal region are having high density of Muslim population and are the worst affected by Love Jihad. The people belonging to Dalit, OBC and EBC communities are the biggest victims of Islamic fundamentalism in the state which is well patronized by the JD-U, RJD and the Congress combine state government,” Anand said.
Arvind Kumar Singh, another spokesperson of the BJP said: “Why are incidents of Love Jihad frequently taking place in Bihar. The simple reason is lack of a strict law. When a Hindu girl marries a Muslim youth, it is up to the government to provide guaranteed security. There should be a provision that a Muslim youth should not ruin the life of a Hindu girl. The same thing applies to Hindu youths as well when they marry Muslim girls. There is a religious guarantee law to avoid Love Jihad.”
“Unfortunately, the political parties which are running the Bihar government have pro-Muslim mindset with the intention to exploit this community as their vote bank,” Singh said.
RJD spokesperson Mritunjay Tiwari told IANS: “There is no Love Jihad in Bihar. It is just a stunt by the BJP to stay in the headlines. The BJP’s idea is to destroy communal harmony and segregate the two communities. Its ploy will not work in Bihar.”
“There is no such terminology as Love Jihad in the books. It is generated by the BJP to create differences between the two communities,” Tiwari said.
Inter-religious marriages are not new in the country but the terminology of Love Jihad was highlighted after Narendra Modi came to power.
“When casteism and untouchability were at their peak, several governments had promoted inter-caste marriages in the country. The idea was to minimize the gap between two castes. Then inter-religious marriage also became popular. One of the reasons for this was that a number of famous personalities including movie stars went in for it. They have a large fan following who endorse every activity of their role models,” said Rajiv Goswami, a Patna based social activist.
“Love Jihad can be defined as initial affection between two persons transforming into criminality and cruelty. It generally has big consequences,” he said.