It looked as if the controversy over ‘Love Jihad’ ( ‘jihad defined as ‘war by other means’) had blown over with state authorities in Kerala and Karnatake denying that such a threat ever existed.The Central Government informed the Kerala High Court early this month that there was no such thing and that the term ‘love jihad’ was being used by the media.However, today, the Kerala High Court openly voiced its scepticism of police reports, claiming that the reports were inconsistent and citing various technical flaws.The Court claims that it is abiding by the secular spirit of the Indian Constitution: it agrees that the freedoms to choose one’s faith and one’s partner in marriage are fundamental rights. However, it feels that the present instances of marriage and conversions that have been brought to its attention are not the exercise of freedom by individuals — specifically, by young women, though the Court does not say it that way. It is difficult to imagine a more anti-Muslim and anti-woman position; and it is a serious matter that the muddle-headed reasoning of the judge has been uncritically circulated in the dominant media.
In a strong sense, the issue was blown up in the media precisely because the judiciary granted it a degree of seriousness.The snowballing started when courts in Kerala and Karnataka asked authorities to probe charges that Muslim men were “luring” “gullible” and “young” women from other religions into their religion through the promise of marriage and “forcibly” converting them into Islam. Early in October, Justice K T Sankaran rejected the anticipatory bail plea of two Muslim men and ordered the DGP, Jacob Punnose, to conduct a probe into ‘love jihad’.The police report was wishy-washy: on the one hand it denied the existence of such an organization; on the other hand, it hinted that some conversions may have happened in this manner.In the same month, a court in Bangalore ordered a similar probe during the hearing of a habeas corpus petition.The woman is question was an adult, but the court ordered her to stay with her parents until it was clear that she had indeed married for love.
The impact of the controversy has been devastating, especially on young Muslim men, who are now forced to carry yet another burden of suspicion.The major gainer, no doubt, has been rightwing civil society. The controversy frightens because it reveals not just Islamophobia becoming banal but also the growing capacity of rightwing civil society to silence mainstream politics, and the weakening of leftwing civil society.In Kerala, the rightwing orientation of organised Hindu and Christian faith bared its fangs, claiming that there was a well-organized,well-funded, clandestine Muslim organisation behind alleged ‘seductions’: they were referring to a few instances in which Hindu and Christian women chose to marry Muslim men — their classmates. The Christian Church issued ‘guidelines’ to families to ‘protect’ their young women from being ‘seduced’. Christian and Hindu rightwing tendencies held hands : not surprising, given the fact that the former has indeed been seeking opportunities to renew closeness with the latter. In Kerala, rightwing coalitions between Hindu upper caste-community organisations and the Christian Church have historically been successful in reining in the ‘atheists’in a variety of issues from the mid-twentieth century onwards, the latest being sex education. This was briefly disrupted in the 1980s when the Hindu rightwing began to gain an independent presence in the Malayalee public and entered into adversarial combat with the Christian Church over several controversies. Recently, however, the alliance has been renewed, and despite the horrors suffered by the Christians of Orissa (a prominent Bishop declared that the attack on the faith was more dangerous than attack on life and property in the Church!). In fact the most recent occasion for their unity was during the ‘textbok controversy’ — which, interestingly, was about a textbook lesson which spoke of inter-religious marriage in which the male partner was portrayed as Muslim. Since no community leadership likes inter-community marriages, the coalition remains unaffected by incidents in which coalition partners may appear to be acting against each other: at the height of the controversy, the BJP-mouthpiece Janmabhoomi sacked a woman journalist who converted after marrying a Christian.
Historically,inter-caste and inter-religious marriage was never high on the social agenda of political movements in Kerala though the upper echelons of the communist movement did marry across caste and religion.It was always viewed as not a political, but social issue, and was promoted by a small but influential group of intellectuals led by Sahodaran K Ayappan, aligned with the rationalist movement in the mid-twentieth century.This initiative did not thrive in post-independence Kerala. The transformation of marriage in twentieth century Kerala which included the institutionalisation of conjugal marriage, patriliny, and dowry, the specific implications of Kerala’s demographic transition for community politics, and the inflow of remittances from the Gulf after the 1970s have endured that community boundaries, and the institution of arranged marriage which sustains them remain hale and hearty.
Arranged marriage, in other words, remains central to the maintenance of community boundaries and middle-class power in Kerala and criticism of this practice has worn thin towards the end of twentieth century — feminists and others who have directly criticised it have borne the label of ‘sexual anarchists’.In fact, even in marriages across caste and religion (the ‘love marriages’) the widespread expectation is that the woman should migrate to her husband’s community identity — or at least to his community-shaped domestic culture. In the wake of the controversy, some commentators argued that Hindu males do not often ask their non-Hindu partners to convert formally – this is a facile observation, for the woman’s integration into her husband’s social world happens irrespective of whether she is formally converted to his faith or not.
No greater evidence for the judiciary’s biased reasoning needs to be marshalled: how come that the above practice has become a crime just now? Given the fact that communities (and many families) in Kerala tend to reject their members, especially women, who marry others, it is only rational, in Kerala’s context, for a woman to move on to her husband’s community after marriage. How come the judge does not see this? Why is he so confident that her family and community which wants to annul her decision and obviously disregards her agency will treat her with respect?How is he so sure women who enter the Muslim community through marriage will not exercise the same degrees of informal power that married women of other communities do? Is he also sure that non-Muslim women who have married within their community (and most of all the caste-ridden Hindu!)are being treated with respect and receive greater justice? If the judge in question is so divorced from everyday social reality in Kerala, so blinded by the half-baked rants about Muslim family life circulated by Hindu and Christian rightwingers, and indeed so ignorant of informed debate on women’s rights, marriage and family in India, he probably does not deserve to stay in the esteemed chair that he occupies. The judge’s comments are not only anti-Muslim; it distrusts young woman’s capacity for decision-making, blindly entrusts her to the family, and protects the interests of powerful communities. Nothing could be further away from the Indian Constitution.
Islamophobia has been growing in the State and has been visible in various ways; but more than reaffirming this fact, this controversy, for me, provides incontrovertible evidence for the social disempowerment of women in Kerala, which has been hard to prove, given the pervasiveness of the Kerala Model discourse (in which many powerful academics have made heavy career-investments!).Just the other day, a young researcher from the US, a first-time visitor to Kerala, expressed dismay at how the Court could have made such statements in a State so well-known for its ’empowered’ women. For me, tying female agency to social development, as she did, is equally worrying — for it was precisely the ‘wisdom’ evoked by the rightwing coalition to justify their assault on women’s independent choices of partners.For, historically, the ’empowered woman’ of twentieth century Kerala has been she who, with all her social-development attributes, would remain subservient to the community she was born in.Historically, the much-celebrated history of community formation in Kerala, found by some to be the ‘communal road to a secular Kerala’,has also been the history of women’s reduction to minor status within these modernising communities, and female education was conceived as not so much a deterrent to this, but actually its instrument.
The ‘socially developed’ woman, in this reckoning, is not someone who will not smudge community boundaries; rather, she contributes ‘gender-capital’, performs ‘community status-production’, in and for the community.The present controversy and the statements made by the VHP and the Christian Church are entirely consistent with dominant aspects of ‘social development’ in Kerala, and reveals its conservative underbelly. We need to remember that even major figures of Kerala’s much-discussed social ‘renaissance’, like V T Bhattatiripad, did swing towards a position close to the VHP’s current line when it was a case of a brahmin woman marrying a Muslim, and by her own decision.
As far as I know from research, inter- and intra- community marriage in Kerala carries more or less similar risks for women given the utterly gender-unequal contexts in which it happens. If the former carries greater risks, that should be attributed to the exclusivist practices of community life, and not to ‘wrong-decision making’ on the woman’s part.But the judge seems to be on ‘jihad’ for the protection of community-interests and against young women’ s agency — and there is very little in Kerala’s ‘progressive legacy’ — and in most ‘progressive’ academic wisdom on Kerala — that can stop it from doing so.
22 thoughts on “Who’s at ‘Jihad’? : ‘Love Jihad’ and the Judge in Kerala”
According to my knowledge, the controversial judge Mr. K.T. Shankaran was a former member of Akhil Bharathiya Vidhyarthi Parishad, the student wing of RSS. If you look at the legacy of the judging patterns of this hindu right wing man, i am sure that you will find him soon in BJP ranks like Justice Guman Lal Lodha. In 2007, Justice Shankaran along with Justice H L Dathu stayed Raja Ravi Varma Award on artist MF Husain. Almost all pro-Hindutva outfits have been raising that campaign against the Government’s move to fete Husain.
In 1949, the Ayodhya district magistrate K.K. Nair opened the locks of the Babri Masjid for Hindutva outfits. In return RSS provided him parliament membership. There are plenty of Judges and high ranking civil officials in the country who are breed by ABVP and ready to take the rule of law for their own agenda. These kind of Babu Bajrangi’s don’t have any respect to secular credentials of Republic of India. As long as the illiterate masses are the majority of this land, the upper caste mafia will controle the act of defining the law.
A 2005 countrywide survey done by Centre for Media Studies for Transparencey International finds that a very high 77 percent of respondents believe the Indian judiciary is corrupt. The survey found that bribe around 580 million US$ was paid during 12 months. Money was paid to the officials in the following proportions: 61 percent to lawyers; 29 percent to court officials; 5 percent to middlemen.”
Between 1950 to 2000, 47% of Chief Justices and 40% of Judges were of Brahmin origin!. Dalits and Indian aborigines are lesser than 20 out of 610 judges working in Supreme Court and state high Courts.
When the ‘left/secular’ forces are willing to join hands with islamic fundamentalist forces and defend islamic fundamentalist organizations and appease them by initiating sharia compliant banking and support PDP and seek its support in elections, what is wrong if christian fundamentalists and hindu fundamentalists join hands to protect themselves from this menace of ‘left/secular’ and islamic fundamentalist alliance.
Does Islam allow marriage of a Hindu/Christian woman and a muslim man with the condition that the woman would not convert to islam and would retain her right to practise her faith.How many organizations representing muslims are willing to grant such rights or recognise such marriages.
Can you answer this question?. Why is that in all these cases it is the girls who have undergone conversion and not the men. The court has every reasaon to caution against forced conversion. Right to practise faith does not include the right to convert or right to force conversion on any ground. This is the law of this land.
BTW, informed sources from Jeddah tell me that the Imam of Mecca was married to a European woman who remained a Christian. So like in all faiths, different interpretations of marriage in Islam are possible.
But the point I made was not that some communities in Kerala are more open to inter-religious marriage than others. You are right in that they are all inimical. And it is accepted practice in post-matrilineal Kerala, however, wrong, that the wife should be joined with her husband’s family.So why blame the muslims alone? And your justification of rightwing anti-Muslim anger the right response to state patronage of Islamic banking is not convincing to me.
There might not be any organization called “love Jihad” but the whole houdini act of “love Jihad” that everyone is trying to believe is actually the by-product of a fear that is afflicted to some sections in the society and that cut across all religions and that is why immediately after it was said there was something like ‘love Jihad’ exists, even christian organizations in kerala went up in arms. even some organizations came out in support of the virulent sangh brigade in kerala vowing that they are going to fight hand-in-hand.
in an increasingly globalized situation where satellite channels beam programs based on loose western so called value system, some section is afflicted with a fear – what is happening to us? To counter this, as in the case of mental – illness they start rambling about a ghost that never exist.
traditionalists and purists, make hay while the sun is shining. It is easy to rope in insecure parents and adults, who seems to be puzzled with the onslaught of the change that our society is undergoing.
infact, i feel the change in societal norms are changing so fast in a culture like India, some who are scared has whipped up this. add to that, the current islamophobia, it is an easily sellable product.
while it is utterly ridiculous for love married couples to institutionalize any religion, be it the girl or boy. we have to understand something. The society as a whole it terribly unacceptable of these conditions. For love married couples, our society makes it difficult to live, if they dont comply the usual societal norms. probably, we will have to wait a lil more for such acceptance. The saddest part is that mostly woman is the one who is hounded with such societal pressure.
Love Jihad might or might not be existing, but what we need to accept is that we need to create an atmosphere were inter-religious and inter-caste marriages happen more and more. while we are eager to erase the chimera that love Jihad is, we tend to forget that we are also part of that cog that show unacceptability for inter-religious and inter-caste marriages. What we should strive is for such a situation by making people understand the importance of such a co-existence. Afterall they say, it is important for us to have these kinda relations as it will only strengthen our gene pool. anyway endogamy is a silent killer among hindus, i feel.
any which ways, now that T.Nazeer is nabbed and ammonium nitrate is being unearthed from the court yards of pious/religious brothers, it becomes increasingly difficult refute the claims of the Sangh and their equally abhorrent brothers in Christianity. Occasionally, i have also met some people who have changed their religion because increased co-habitation with nefarious elements.
While it could be very immature to finger point any particular religion in this matter, it should also be noted that the flamboyance as a result of money (illegal and legal) which could be particularly attributed to some has been a luring factor in this whole issue. Now, i cant assert on this, if i do, i might sound like Babu Bajrangi.
truth is also that, there is terrible wave of radicalization that is being pushed down the corridors of our educational institutions also. escpecially, professional ones. students in my cousins college – a reputed govt med college, has been arguing for prayer rooms in hostel. while it could sound very stupid, it is not. it could only be viewed as an assertion of religious authority by some section. there has been constant fracas between liberal and conservative students in the campus also.
so, rather than dismissing it in a whiff, i would say we need to have a better study of such situations and offer a much more balanced view point than a romantic secular perspective, like the one expressed here.
The Kerala and Karnataka Hcs by their recent pronouncements have not just trashed women’s constitutional right to exercise their choices in marriage ,love,faith,etc as equal citizens, but these courts have also been betraying a pro-active mood to lend some degree of legitimacy to the RSS propaganda.
Strange, this happens at a time when the whole country is revisiting memories of the shameful crime of demolition of Babri Masjid and the listed leader-criminals under Liberhan Commission Report . The UPA Govt’s characteristic soft attitude to the communal criminals is also now being challenged by the aam aadmi in India, cutting across caste,class and religion!.
In Maharashtra, during 2008 the Cong-NCP Govt
issued an order to investigate all marriages that had taken place over the preceding 3 years in which Hindu women converted to Islam in the context of inter faith love and marriage.
But this order has lately been withdrawn thanks to democratic protests.
Even more strange, is the origin of such a controversial and unlawful order- it is reportedly just that two BJP MLAs had raised an issue in the Legislative Assembly that Muslims were converting Hindu women to Islam through love and marriage, in order to increase Muslim population in the country. ‘Secular’ rulers had no hesitations to instantly pass the orders to investigate over the conversions and marriages as alleged by people whom they routinely call communal!
Now, it necessitates a country wide campaign to defend peoples’ constitutional and legal rights AGAINST blatant encroachments BY COURTS!
@ Ravi and whosoever it may concern:
What is forced conversion?
Could the rituals involved in ‘forced conversion’ be something like caste Hindus with their khaap panchayats forcing excreta into the mouths of dalits?
Or rather, could it be understood better in the light of the relevant Article guaranteeing the freedom of conscience, in the Constitution, which states that subject to public order,safety and morality, any person shall be free to profess , practice and propagate his faith?
How can you (or even the Court )say that a Nair/Ezhava/Christian girl’s desire to practice Islam for whatever reason( it could even be a motivation to live peacefully with her lover and the in laws without the hassles of religious hangovers!) is an instance of ‘forced conversion’?
What is problems with hindu girls are getting married with muslims. majority of our film actors are muslims.JK chief minister wife is hindu ,his sister got married to hindu,Khursheed ahmad wife is christian.the hindu ,Mr Ram wife is christian and so on.south Indian girls like fair muslim what is problem.I think problem with RSS who is thinking their population is reducing in number day in day out.thanks for muslim boy who are accepting hindu girls ,I think hindu judge should appriciate this in India.
The media and Sangh related organizations have propagated that more than 4000 women have been abducted by the so-called ‘love jihad’ and they are still missing. It would clear the confusion if they submit the details of those missing women to the Police or Court.
It appears that no sensible person can believe the RSS stories about 4000 Hindu women ‘missing’, ‘helplines’, ‘rescue’, so on and so forth.. and hence, the court and a section of the Kerala Cops seem to feel the compulsion for lending authenticity to these stories…
Ain’t we familiar with the Tehelka expose how Babu Bajrangi ‘rescued’ in Gujarat, and later how Sri Ram Sene stepped in Karnataka for the rescue of Hindu women?
If the common folk reasonably starts doubting the patriotism of the RSS, how else could they continue the business ?
What for the Court & and the Cops, then?
Have you made any effort at collecting some primary data on this issue to know the “ground situation”
To be more specific, have you tried to contact the two girls from Kozhenchery, those who brought to siurface this whole issue .
After all they are also part of the class ” women in kerala”
Without such primary data, which the Judge was able to fetch, how can one make a conclusion. Is it not primary that data leads to conclusion and not the other way round.
JIHAD has been grossly MISUSED / ABUSED. Its not only ABUSED by MEDIA, but also ABUSED by clever / intelligent people, who do not understand the meaning of the word JIHAD.
JIHAD in simple terms means STRUGGLE. It is not salvation, nor a means of reaching heaven, nor awarded by VIRGINS in heaven, nor anything of that sort. These are all MYTHS.
Every person is doing his / her own JIHAD ((struggle)), whether Muslim or otherwise.
To comment on term coined by SANGH PARIVAR – LOVE-JIHAD. Even our police, honourable judges, and respected priests are falling prey in this issue!!!
a) Why is SANGH-PARIVAR silent, when GAURI CHIBBER marries SHAHRUKH KHAN and changes her name to GAURI KHAN (dropping her middle). Because she enjoys from CRORES and CRORES of RUPEES, earned by SHAHRUKH KHAN???
b) Why is SANGH-PARIVAR silent, when Sangeeta Bijlani dates with M. Azharuddin, fully knowing Azharuddin is married, and has kids from his first-wife??? Fairly-unknown BOLLYWOOD damsel, then rides a full-blown popularity, only after acquainting with Indian Captain M. Azharuddin who was at peak of his cricket-career. SANGH-PARIVAR is happy with this association.
c) REENA DUTTA marries AAMIR KHAN, has two children with him – dumps AAMIR KHAN after 15-years of marriage. Second in line is KIRAN RAO who quietly associates with AAMIR KHAN, marries because AAMIR has CRORES and CRORES of RUPEES.
d) MALAIKA ARORA, show-biz damsel – seduces ARBAAZ KHAN, marries him and adds KHAN as last name. They have a son, named ARHAAN. SANGH PARIVAR is again silent on this association, because of BOLLYWOOD KHAN’S crores of rupees is earned by Indian Government, through income tax.
Kerala state, Karnataka people, and overall Indian Girls / Women should know LOVE-JIHAD is an INVENTION of SANGH PARIVAR, only continue their onslaught against innocent Muslim youths, and to EXERCISE their rights over the RIGHTS of WOMEN, to choose a PARTNER of their CHOICE. I am amazed at innocence of Indian public.
Love and sex have no barriers. The hindutva hooligans want to hunt Muslim youths in the name of love jihad. In fact, Religion of Islam is used by prominent Hindu and Muslim figures to satiate their sexual needs in an illegal manner.
On August 21, 1979 BJP leader and film actor, Mr. Dharmendra converted to Islam, changed his name to Dilawar Khan, got married to actress Hema Malini, as his first wife, Prakash Kaur, refused to divorce him. On records, Hema malini became Ayesha. By joining the organization of “Love JIHAD” BJP leader cleverly escaped anti-bigamy laws under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955. However, Dharmendra and Hema Malini, never accepted Islam as their religion though being married only after embracing Islam. Marriages those of Chander Mohan-Anuradha Bali and Dharmendra-Hema Malini are similar in nature.
Muslim actor, Raj Babbar married Hindu actress, Smita Patil despite being already married to Zaheera, a muslim women.
On December 10, 2006, Major Chandrasekhar Pant, an army physician who was working for Indira Gandhi Hospital in Afghanistan married a 20-year old Afghan woman from Kabul named Sabra Ahmadzai.
Dr. Pant already had wife and children back home in India, but did not mention it to Sabra or her family. He even converted to Islam, and changed his name to Himmat Khan, to marry Sabra.
Before leaving Afghanistan, Dr Pant promised to take her to India. After 2 years, she came to India looking for him. The Army doctor denied his marriage with her. However, in October 2009, a women judge in Delhi court ordered that the Army doctor is liable to compensate her Rs. 8,000 every month.
In a sensational disclosure of 2004, noted Tamil writer Anuradha Ramanan has alleged that Hindu pontiff, Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati attempted to sexually abuse her in 1992. He was arrested with his junior, Vijayendra Saraswati in their alleged involvement in Shankara Raman murder case. The matter is still pending before the court.
While the Hindu seer dated more with RSS boys, his behavior may just tip the scales to classify him as a sex addict. RSS don’t promote marriage and sexual intercourse as a concept to build a family. Instead they believe in Sangh Parivar, the brotherhood of Hindu extremism and the front end leaders are compelled to live as bachelors in public life.
In December 2006, BJP general secretary and RSS insider Sanjay Joshi quit his party post after an audio cassette, and later a VCD, showing him in a compromising position with a woman. RSS always claims of Brahmacharya (vow of celibacy) about their leaders and members. Joshi, like all other members of RSS, is supposed to be celibate and the CD has exposed these claims.
In April 2007, Jayalakshmi, a nurse from Bangalore attempted suicide following endless sexual harassment by M P Renukacharya, a Hindu extremist party (BJP) legislator and the Chairman of the Karnataka State Electronics Development Corporation Ltd. She later released the pictures and videos of the sexual assault in front of the media.
In the same period , a quantity of locally-made Viagra and sex stimulants were recovered from the baggage of a senior Parliament Member of BJP. Babubhai Katara was arrested at Delhi airport for trying to fly with a woman and teenager to Toronto on the diplomatic passports of his family. He was arrested with one Paramjeet Kaur and a 15-year-old boy, Amarjeet Singh, who were posing as his wife and son.
Love affairs or sexual addiction is not so straightforward and courts cannot define any of such behavioural issues. Indian judiciary echoes cultural values of this land and the society.
Indian myths consider sexuality with male supremacy. For eg, Lord Shiva is worshiped in the form of the phallus. Most people treat women like they treat their cows – both are said to be culturally revered in India but are ultimately desecrated and defiled.
The author talks about a right wing Hindu civil society. Nobody would doubt her because you see well-nourished savarna looking ladies like Sobha Surendran, MS Unni (forgot her first name) and a bevy of others who would wax on the threat of love jihad in news rooms and various public fora.
On the other hand, do you have a Muslim civil society, either to the right or to the humanist side?
We all, I mean those from Kerala, know what ails the Muslim community in Kerala. The great majority of them are still in the clutches of arch reactionaries like that mullah who has been accused of doing to death Chekannur (who was a lone potential nucleus of a civil society). While Sobha Surendran can go to news room and wax beamingly about love jihad the Muslim women [nor any women not even women journalists] cannot go to a public meeting where this mullah speaks. And this mullah holds the vastest audience in Malabar. No national leader can fetch half as much as he.
The official lefties, however opportunistic they are, are the most powerful, organised voice of secularism in Kerala. In this case, don’t we catch them on the wrong-foot? Don’t blame it on the percolation of Hindu mindset alone. The judgment in question might very likely exemplify it (I don’t know what data the leftist police fed). But there is another side to the whole affair and it has to do with their exclusivism.
‘The official lefties, however opportunistic they are, are the most powerful, organised voice of secularism in Kerala’
Their secularism is just a mask.The official left has no problem in joining hands with mullahs and reactionary elements when it wants to please muslims.The official left deported Taslima,
banned her book.The official left wants
islamic banking in India and is working for it
in Kerala.The non-official left may have some
differences with left but when it comes to appeasing muslims it is as ‘good’ as the official left. Both will shed tears for Palenstine cause but will not bother about other similar movements elsewhere or those will not get equal attention. For the official left the genocide in Sudan is a taboo. I am skeptical about both – official and
Recently Prabhu Deva Tamil actor who is already married and have three children married Nayan Thara. The marriage was according ao all Hindu rituals. Where are those LOVE JIHAD warriors and why they overlook such these incidents..?