India makes first arrest under controversial ‘love jihad’ law
- Uwais Ahmed was reportedly booked on November 28th in Bareilly’s Deorania Police Station under Section 3 and Section 5 of the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, also called the ‘Love Jihad’ law.
- The Muslim man becomes the first to be held under the law that penalizes ‘love jihad’ — a term used by radical Hindus to accuse Muslim men of converting Hindu women by the means of marriage.
- At least five major Indian states are reportedly mulling to enact the ‘love Jihad’ law, all of which are ruled by the federal right-wing.
- Neither the legal Indian penal code nor any official Indian documentations on law formally mention the claim that seeks to generalize any issues in marriage between Muslim men and Hindu women.
KOLKATA (India) — Uttar Pradesh Police arrested a 21-years-old Muslim man in Bareilly under the controversial ‘love jihad’ law that was passed last month unanimously.
The Muslim man becomes the first to be held under the law that penalizes ‘love jihad’ — a term used by some radical Hindus to accuse Muslim men of systematically converting Hindu women by the means of marriage.
Offenses under this law are non-bail-able and punishable by a term in jail for up to 10-years.
“We have made the arrest under the FIR that was registered under the new Ordinance after it was cleared by the Honourable Governor,” UP Police was quoted as saying on Wednesday by The Print.
The law created widespread raucous after the BJP-led majority governance in India showed outpouring support for the enactment of the law, which the opposition and protestors branded as being the party’s Islamophobic stance.
At least five major Indian states are reportedly mulling to enact the ‘love Jihad’ law, all of which are ruled by the federal right-wing. But no official source or data has substantiated the law, nor does the Indian penal code has its mention.
The Muslim man’s arrest came on Wednesday after the father of a woman who has alleged him for trying to forcibly convert, pressurize to marry, and threaten the girl’s life.
The woman’s father told the BBC, the woman was in a relationship with Ahmed but later married someone else. Police said the same man was charged a year ago for kidnapping the woman but was withdrawn later when she was found.
It is known that the couple even tried to elope in October last year, which was ultimately foiled.
Uwais Ahmed was reportedly booked on November 28th in Bareilly’s Deorania Police Station under Section 3 and Section 5 of the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020.
UP Governor Anandiben Patel passed the ordiance on November 28th.
According to reports, Ahmed has now been placed on 14 days of judicial arrest after he was produced in front of judicial magistrate Priyanka Anjor in Baheri Wednesday.
Ahmed denied having link with the woman, saying he is innocent.
What is this ‘love jihad’?
Love jihad is a term that is widely recognized as being seen as far-right extremism that alleges widespread prevelance of forcible conversion of Hindu women by Muslim men through marriage.
But neither the legal Indian penal code nor any official Indian documentations on law formally mention the claim that seeks to establish a widespread and structured prevalence of Muslim men using the institution of marriage for religious conversion.
But unfortunately, at least five Indian states – Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Assam, and Karnataka are mulling to enact the same law that Uttar Pradesh legalized last month.
And not co-incidentally, all the five states are ruled by the BJP, it must be noted.
In a statement to reporters after the first arrest under the law, Karnataka Minister R Ashok said: “Karnataka govt. will ban ‘Love Jihad’ at any cost. We will jail all those indulging in it. They will be locked at the central prison. Who is Siddaramaiah to oppose it? Is he running the government? It is the BJP government, which is in power.”
Support for the law in BJP-ruled states have been more or less like this.
Opposition and critics have raised concerns over the law’s potential predicaments that could come with misuse of the term ‘love jihad.’
The BJP which is currently a federal power in India is a party rooted in a sociopolitical ideology of Hindutva — which claims Idia for being inherently a land of the Hindus.
In October, a globally recognized Indian jewelry brand found itself amid controversy after it published an advertisement where a Hindu woman was shown in a very comfortable setting at a Muslim household she was married into.
The YouTube description of the advertisement read: “She is married into a family that loves her like their own child. Only for her, they go out of their way to celebrate an occasion that they usually don’t. A beautiful confluence of two different religions, traditions, and cultures.”
But Tanishq later withdrew the advert after the brand was accused of promoting love jihad, mainly by the right-wing Hindu extremist on social media.
India’s chronic phobia of interfaith and inter-caste relationships has been increasing in the backdrop of the Hindu nationalist government, a fact opposition has been upholding in parliamentary debates and addresses.
Several reports have pointed out India’s losing grip on the basics of democracy, especially under the Narendra Modi government, including repetitive attacks on secularism. Modi faces Lok Sabha or House of the People elections in 2024.
In November, the Netflix series ‘A Suitable Boy’ was accused of promoting love jihad citing a scene where a Muslim man steals a kiss with a Hindu woman with a temple in the backdrop.
NOTE: the post has been updates for clarity.