JOHN DAYAL writes:
Three parallel strands of India’s cultural history have merged in recent times into a lethal phenomenon that has been termed “Love Jihad”, which has not only obtruded into the personal lives of young men and women of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian religious communities, but has put to grave risk individual security and community peace.
A attitude to Muslims that verges on Islamaphobia, a pathological hatred for conversions to Christianity – both seen as disturbing the demographic equation in India to overwhelm the Hindu majority take the traditional national culture of feudalism and patriarchy to a new and explosive level. The current crisis in the Middle east and on the borders with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir provide the trigger, as it were, to the short fuse.
The Indo-Gangetic plans of North India are the main sites of this confrontation but its repercussions have been seen deep in the states of southern India, and the Indian and south Asian diaspora in the United Kingdom and the United states of America.
Political encouragement and patronage to lumpen and criminal moral vigilante groups, administrative and police impunity have led to targetted violence, a wave of hate campaigns, a polarized landscape, and deeply traumatised young couples who have dared, and sometimes married across religious borders. The media has taken sides, the Hindi language newspapers and television news channels exhibiting majoritarian bigotry. Civil society has found itself outnumbered.
The church, willy nilly, has found itself dragged into this unsavoury situation. Senior episcopal and lay leadership of both Catholic and protestant denominations have so far not been audible in the defence of what, at the end of the day, are issues of human rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution and the Charter of the United Nations.