“Love jihad” may be merely a fear fantasy of Hindutva propagandists, but the campaign has struck a chord with several senior police officers across the country.
Such is the traction that “love jihad”— the notion that there is a global Islamist conspiracy to seduce Hindu women and convert them to Islam — has gained among a section of Indian Police Service (IPS) officers that a debate on the subject on “TopCop,” a discussion forum on Yahoo!, had to be discontinued after some members turned vituperative against Muslims and Islam.
Serving and retired IPS officers are members of the TopCop Internet forum and The Hindu was allowed access by one of them who found the trend “disturbing and alarming.”
“What is shocking is not to know that such prejudices exist among us because we knew that always. That IPS officers can say such things with such brazenness adds another dimension, which is new,” the officer told The Hindu .
“‘Love jihad’ exists. It is a reality… Hindu girls are marrying Muslim boys. It is not a two-way traffic. That would be termed a secular drift,” one post by a 1965-batch officer read.
“’Love Jihad’ as a phenomenon is true and correct as an organised crime,” an officer of the 2003 batch, who spent two years in Uttar Pradesh, said. Though the uniformed supporters of “love jihad” ignored questions from their colleagues on whether any statistics or proof existed to prove such allegations, there were several officers who condemned these views. “What is this us and them? I hope you remember the oath you took when you entered service,” an officer of the 1996 batch wrote chiding the 2003-batch officer quoted earlier.
Some support ‘Love jihad’ theory, but many don’t
The moderator of TopCop, an Internet discussion forum of serving and retired IPS officers, called for the discontinuation of a debate on “love jihad” this week, with the comment that it was turning into a “reiteration of deeply held views and has the potential to become more acerbic.” “I would therefore request all to close this topic and move on.”
While a section of officials declared its approval of the Sangh Parivar campaign on “love jihad,” several officials questioned the argument. An official of the 1990 batch, who has interviewed 49 militant jihadis, said he found no evidence supporting the allegation. “This is not part of any Islamist doctrine, ideology or stated agenda. In fact, what you find is a highly puritanical approach that views any such romantic inclination as sin and grossly abhorrent,” he said.
Another officer from West Bengal wrote: “Even if a large number of Hindu girls are marrying Muslim boys and converting to Islam, what can be the problem for the community and the police. Every adult individual is free to make his or her choices in the matters so subjective and personal as falling in love and getting married.”
While the debate is on love jihad, one participant takes it to a different plane by inviting attention to an alleged “sexual jihad,” “being embraced, apparently voluntarily, by many young Muslim women across the Islamic world.” Offering what he believes is a more balanced view, a 1986-batch officer from Telangana said: “The believing young men who try to convert their non-believing girlfriends before marriage just wish to secure their place in heaven and may have no malicious intention personally.”
But resistance to Muslim boys marrying Hindu girls is not a preserve of the Hindutva right alone, as one officer of the West Bengal cadre narrates.
“During my tenure as SP, one progressive Minister’s relative fell in love with a Muslim boy and changed her religion to expedite marriage under Islamic practice. All progressiveness of the Minister vanished and he put pressure on me through an ADG to arrest the boy and his father.
When I refused to obey the illegal order, the ADG threatened me of consequences.”