By Sneha Rajaram
A girl is a girl after all. It has always been said about them that they change in five minutes according to the circumstances. When she was with them she was theirs, when the family and villagers found out, she did what the villagers asked her to do. There are several such girls here … when they are found out, they insist ‘No matter what, I will stay with him. I won’t go without him’. If she is taken aside and given two slaps, then she herself goes and gets the FIR registered claiming, ‘They sexually assaulted me … he has been doing it for a month.’ Then she will tell the whole story and slap a case on him. You can mould a girl the way you want.
Thus spake Suresh Rana, BJP MLA from Thana Bhawan in UP. He said this to undercover journalist Shazia Nigar who was working on a large-scale exposé of right-wing terrorist politicians who forcibly split up Hindu-Muslim marriages in which they see the chimera of ‘love jihad’.
We recommend you brew some tea, sit down, take a deep breath and read the exposé all the way through. There are some social truths that must be digested all the way – this is one of them. Put five spoons of sugar in your tea if you have to.
News websites Cobrapost and Gulail combined forces to conduct this sting operation. The “RSS–VHP–BJP combine and their splinter groups use violence, intimidation, emotional blackmail, duplicity and drugs to split up Hindu–Muslim married couples,” they write. And they have videos and direct quotes from many right-wing terrorists to back it up. In one report after another, we read of how Hindu wives are threatened, beaten, drugged (in order to make them compliant enough to be kidnapped and removed from their marital homes), coerced into second marriages with Hindu husbands, and their Muslim husbands falsely charged with kidnapping and rape. Documents are faked and officials bribed in order to break up Hindu-Muslim marriages. Hindu women are treated as property, Muslim men as criminals.
Their sting operation also includes videos, which you can watch here. Here is their damning introduction video:
And here are some of the gruesome highlights of the sting report:
1. The Hindutva brigade studied by Cobrapost consists of RSS, VHP and BJP MPs, MLAs, and party members from Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Mangalore, Kasaragod, Ernakulum and Delhi.
2. Radhey Shyam, a VHP member in Muzaffarnagar: “Love jihad happens because you are weak. You just need to shoot a few people and it will stop the next day. If you see their boy with our girl, just shoot them… If 10 of our boys die, how does it matter? It won’t matter if our community is saved. 10–20 sacrifices are needed, and without sacrifice nothing can be achieved.”
3. RSS leader Omkar Singh in Muzaffarnagar: “I have rescued nearly 125 such girls from the clutches of the Muslims, till date. After the girl has fallen for Sonu Monu… they [Muslim boys] use such names… the girls realize that their lives have been ruined, [they think] it is better to stay with them. Then we make them understand and if they still disagree, we file false cases against their men.”
4. Sanjay Agarwal, BJP’s district-level leader in Muzaffarnagar: “If she doesn’t listen to us, we hit her. We get her beaten up. We misbehave (Poori badtameeze karte hain).”Cobrapost: “Such a girl is treated with a wooden board.”Agarwal: “We don’t let the girl appear in court for days. We say that the girl is not listening. They [police] say it’s alright, we will see her tomorrow. If she isn’t listening even tomorrow, they say it’s alright. They help us a lot. They send her mother to her to talk. We are not allowed to do that. They help us a lot. Judges help us, so does the SSP (senior superintendent of police). The judge gives the girl to us in his judgment. He hands her over to her parents. Once she is under her parents’ control, we can get her married in three days.”
5. BJP MLA Sangeet Som, Sardhana, Meerut, on what they tell a Hindu woman to get her to abandon her Muslim husband: “We make her see the reason that this is not good for her. We tell her that they are Muslims, they never settle for one woman, whereas a Hindu boy will be automatically sent to jail if he does so. On the other hand, a Muslim can marry upto four women and those women can adjust among themselves. You tell me which Hindu girl will adjust like that? There are, of course, some exceptions. Such cases are rare… Most importantly we exert on her emotionally that her mother will die, her father will die and brother might even commit suicide as he would not be able to face the society.”
6. Cobrapost: “To counter ‘love jihad’, the BJP, RSS and VHP conduct what they call ‘rescue operations’. These operations often involve forcibly separating the couple, using violence on both of them and slapping fabricated cases of kidnapping and rape on the Muslim husbands. These organisations have formed teams comprising lower level workers who keep an eye on cases of Hindu girls eloping with Muslim boys. Some of them also use right-wing leaning lawyers as informants. If an application is filed with the marriage registrar’s office under the Special Marriage Act, these lawyers tip these teams.”
7. Cobrapost: “Then there are always Swayam Sevaks (RSS members) among this legal fraternity who would keep an eye on an impending marriage at the registrar’s and will tip the Hindutva Brigade who would immediately launch a calibrated rescue operation. He [Agarwal] claims: “A lot of advocates are swayam sevaks. They keep an eye to see if a Hindu girl registers at the city magistrate or the SDM’s office for marriage and the date given. They find out who her lawyer is and if she is in the lawyer’s chamber. Then they call us. We go there with our whole team… 50, 60, 70 people.”
8. Shiv Kumar Sharma, founder of the Krishna Sena, Muzaffarnagar, on being a Hindutva terrorist: “Actually we used to run a Hindu Dharm Sena, a Hindu terrorist group. We used to kill Muslims, throw bombs at mosques […] I’m like that since my childhood. I have cases pending against me since long… in 1996–97 when we used to kill Muslims, we used to roam around at nights, hunting them down. At times when we could not kill one, we used to feel life worthless, as if nothing had happened… if we killed a Muslim, we used to celebrate the occasion, and if we managed to kill a Maulvi, then our happiness would know no bounds. I would feel like walking on clouds. […]”Sharma on ‘love jihad’ counter-measures: “We create a lot of chaos and rioting, and employ every trick … We take help from lawyers and sometimes the girl turns out to be a major [above 18 years] … it often happens … and she says she loves the boy and has married him and would go with him. In that case, we try our best to find out some way to separate them. We use false documents to declare her a minor or not in right frame of mind so that the girl is handed over to her family.”
9. Suresh Rana, BJP MLA from Thana Bhawan, Shamli, UP: “There is a girl called Swati (name changed) from the working class, poor people. She ran away with a Muslim who was already married with three children. She was 21 years old. We protested a lot and we found her after a month. We brought her back and got the man arrested. I kept her in my house for four days. We changed her mind set and got her married again.”
10. Cobrapost: “In Kerala, the Hindu Helpline has taken to administering drugs to girls who have been ‘rescued’. These drugs cause temporary amnesia and are used to bring the girl under control if she is ‘being too aggressive’, says Cijiith from the Hindu Helpline in Ernakulam, Kerala. He claims that parents bring their daughters from as far away as Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra for treatment in Ernakulam. He elaborates, ‘When she is adamant on Islam, we will send her to a religious counselling centre so that she can have a debate with our experts on the Quran. Even with that if she is not convinced, we send her to a medical hospital where she will be kept in a cell, she will be under some medication if she is aggressive … (If she doesn’t relent even then), we will send her somewhere [else] where she can be kept for some days.’”
This commodification of Hindu women in connection with accusations of ‘love jihad’, and the corresponding commodification of Muslim women in connection with ‘Beti bachao, bahu lao’ (a Bajrang Dal campaign to convert Muslim women by having Hindu men marry them), is a wake up call to everyone who doesn’t believe that women are still seen as property in the 21st century. It’s a case of, “You break my toy car, I’ll break yours.”
Except the toy car doesn’t belong to a man. And it was never broken in the first place. All this speaks volumes about not just delusions of ownership, but about marriage itself as a weapon of war. As a friend once said to me, “As a woman you’re always getting converted to something in a marriage. All marriage is love jihad.”
There’s a word in psychiatry for this right-wing hallucination of ‘love jihad’ in a consensual marriage between a Hindu woman and Muslim man – paranoid schizophrenia. But the “RSS-VHP-BJP and their splinter groups” aren’t being prescribed antipsychotics. Instead, they’ve moved on to the next level of delusion – manufacturing evidence to make their stories come true.
A year ago, Bangalore police interrogated two men in connection with some flyers that urged Muslim youths to practise ‘love jihad’. The police suspected these flyers were circulated by right-wing groups in order to cause communal hostilities.
So what gave these flyers away as fake?
First, in case you didn’t see the flyer that was being circulated on WhatsApp and email, it promises the following rewards for a successful ‘love jihad’ marriage:
Hindu (Brahmin) ‘girl’: Rs 5 lakh [#NotAGirlNotAGirlNotAGirl!]
Hindu (Kshatriya) girl: Rs 4.5 lakh
Hindu (OBC/SC/ST): Rs 2 lakh
Jain girl: Rs 3 lakh
Gujrati (Brahmin) girl: Rs 6 lakh
Gujrati (Kutchi) girl: Rs 3 lakh
Sikh (Punjabi) girl: Rs 7 lakh
Punjabi Hindu girl: Rs 6 lakh
Christian (Roman Catholic): Rs 4 lakh
Christian (Protestant): Rs 3 lakh
Buddhist girl: Rs 1.5 lakh
Really? Really? Like, there are nearly half a billion women in this country! Do these pamphlet ghostwriters think love jihadists are made of money?
The second thing that gave them away: as the Karnataka President of the Popular Front of India (PFI) pointed out, “We would have to be either extremely foolish or some sort of extremist underground organization to circulate a pamphlet like this and provide our own office address. This is the handiwork of the same Hindutva organisations that are spreading the fiction of love jihad”.
Hanlon’s Razor comes to mind: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
Hindutvavadis, you have broken Hanlon’s razor. We wish we could stop at calling you stupid. But Cobrapost’s work says otherwise.