Is it not surprising how a term that finds no place in the lexicon is finding its place in the law books?
The answer is no.
Because we are too enthralled to be surprised. We are enamoured by the interfaith marriages of celebrities and have some juicy dinner time gossips over it. We find ourselves overindulgent in their social status and navigate about our fictitious love for a split second based on that motif of interfaith.
But what if those crisscrossing lines of religion cut through that fictitious love of ours which has become real for those “ordinary” citizens who have no dazzling standards to enthral paparazzi and remove the oxymoronic stamp of “Love Jihad” that a political clout will weaponise to hijack our pluralism for establishing their own hindutva bogey.
Let me be very clear and transparent here. Love cannot be ensconced with Jihad neither Love is a Jihad if someone deems that to be. The term ‘Love Jihad’ is not defined under the extant laws so it is quite absurd and futile too to make attempts to manipulate individual liberties by our legislators.
“No person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”
If you are wondering that I am quoting this as an apt reference to justify my point, this is stated in Article 21 of our Constitution.
So any law on “Love Jihad” or any ordinance promulgated is in itself a tacit contrast to the above.
To explore the very term and why and how the moral policing by certain political groups and machineries are hindering our personal choices, we need to stop being enthralled and become more incautious in our outlook. Showing passivity will further make it opaque for us and help militant traditionalists espouse their conspiracy theories of “Love Jihad”. They won’t merely stop by draping their flag of communal cataclysm merrily on the flesh of harmony thereby turning it into a living corpse but also they will further pierce the trident on that very corpse systematically on which the flag of communal and social discord is wrapped.
Anti conversion laws tabled by different states to curb and counter “Love Jihad” which itself they are dubious of makes it very clear that they are counterintuitive in their approach and it represents a regressive march towards unacceptable medievalism and a reprehensible zeal to police the private lives and beliefs of citizens. It’s a dangerous precedent as it veers into ones thought control. It trespasses on an inalienable right guaranteed by the Constitution of India — the freedom of an adult citizen to choose who she lives and partners with, and to follow any faith of her choice.
Moreover, “Love Jihad” itself is a pernicious anti-woman term. It echoes the gender partisan voice of patriarchal society and undermines rather denies women empowerment. It stokes anxieties and legitimises a rank communal fantasy — the alleged conspiracy by virile Muslim men to lure and convert gullible Hindu women.
It is coined to institutionalize a propagandist kind of bigotry, violence and resentment.
If conversion by “forcible” or “fraudulent” means, or by “allurement” or “inducement” for mass proselytising was the main issue for government they would have centralised the Law or rather amended through proper reforms of the Special Marriage Act 1954 and focused on proper implementation of that.
Moreover, lawmakers need to discard the idea of protecting women, and focus on empowering them.
The people at helm of affairs very well know that attacks on interfaith love will consolidate the support of Hindu nationalists who can be fanaticised further later for gains. So they are eroding the bedrock principle of gender equality, in as much as they are intended to in mala fide fashion.
The legislation surrounding a hyperbolic reference of “Love Jihad” rest entirely on two notions that have no place in a modern, egalitarian society.
The first is the idea that one’s religion is a matter for family or community, rather than a question of individual conscience. The state has no business legislating on such matters, and whether someone is converting to a new religion because they are in love, or after a spiritual epiphany or someone may claim “for a bag of rice”, is irrelevant, as long as they are doing it voluntarily.
The second is the utter infantilisation of women. It portrays women as weak, ignorant, and easily brainwashed.
Before it becomes too long for readers to ingest the whole I will wrap up by quoting Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a former associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
“I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”