Hindu Janjagruthi Samiti claims over 3,000 Hindu girls in Dakshina Kannada have gone missing, But the police say only 57 women are still untraced.

Just an hour before the Karnataka High Court directed a probe into the “Love Jehad,” the Dakshina Kannada police on Wednesday called a press conference to expose a false campaign that a Hindu girl fell victim to the so-called ‘Love Jehad’.

When Anitha (22) of Barimaru village in Bantwal taluk, went missing this June, the rumour mills fed by several Sangh Parivar organisations claimed that she was forcibly converted to Islam by a Pakistan-backed, professional ‘jehadist lover’.

On October 4, the head of the Gurupura Math, Rajashekharananda, held a protest meeting where he alleged that Anitha had fallen prey to a terrorist ploy. The event, which according to top police officers, threatened to create a communally sensitive situation, led to the hurried constitution of a special investigation team.

In less than two weeks the team cracked the case: Anitha was poisoned to death by Mohan Kumar, serial killer arrested on October 21, who allegedly confessed to having murdered her and robbed 17 other women by luring them with offers of marriage.

Vigilante attacks

A top police official who did not wish to be named told The Hindu: “By cracking the Anitha case, we hoped to put an end to this ‘Love Jehad’ controversy once and for all.” He said “certain fundamentalist groups that have been carrying out vigilante attacks against inter-community couples for several years have now started using the ‘Love Jehad’ theory to justify their attacks.”

Samiti’s claim

On October 15, the Hindu Janjagruthi Samiti held a protest outside the Deputy Commissioner’s Office alleging that over 3,000 Hindu girls from Dakshina Kannada and 30,000 from the rest of the State had gone missing since the “Love Jehad operation” was launched by the “terrorists” a year ago. These figures, posted on the Samiti’s website, are now being quoted by other Hindutva organisations as well.

However, official statistics given to The Hindu show that in the three years ended September 30 this year, 404 women went missing in the district. Of them, 332 women have since been traced by the police.

At Wednesday’s press conference, the police said that now only 57 women were missing in the district.

According to Superintendent of Police A.S. Rao, several of these 57 women are suspected to have committed suicide or eloped. “Among those who have eloped there are several who are not Hindus. There are also cases where Hindu women have eloped with Hindu men,” he said.

According to Inspector-General Gopal B. Hosur, no organisation had brought any single case of the so-called abduction to the notice of the police in the four western range districts.

The High Court’s directive would be taken in all seriousness, said Mr. Hosur. “It is another opportunity for us to put the matter to rest, once and for all.”