A senior officer-bearer of the BJP has been accused of ‘love jihad’ and expelled after his son married a local Buddhist girl in Ladakh, triggering massive protests from local Buddhists in Leh for the past two months.
The Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) on Wednesday organised a rally and ensured a shutdown in Leh, to press the demand to return the girl to her family. The protesters were carrying banners with slogans like ‘Stop Love Jihad’.
Manzoor Ahmad, 39, who runs a travel agency in Leh, in July disclosed to have married a local Buddhist girl in 2011 and also managed a court marriage this year. However, the family of the girl accused the youth of “kidnapping” and “elopement”. The couple, granted police protection by the court, remains “untraced” for the families.
The action of Mr. Ahmad had a cost to be paid by his father Nazir Ahmad Khan, 74, who was a senior BJP leader. “I was performing Hajj pilgrimage in July when my son managed a court marriage in my absence. However, I was accused of ‘love jihad’ on my return and expelled from the party post as well as the membership,” Mr. Khan told The Hindu.
He said it’s unjust that a father has to pay a cost for his son’s actions. “If my son becomes a deputy commissioner, will I be allowed to sit in his chair? If a son turns out to be a thief, should a father be punished for that? The decision to expel me was unjust,” Mr. Khan said.
Mr. Khan was among the founder members of the BJP and joined the party in 2010 when senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh visited Leh. Mr. Khan was serving as state vice president of the BJP. “It’s my son’s personal decision. I offered help to find my son. I get threats now. I have no role in my son’s decision. Even he took this step against my wishes,” Mr. Khan added.
The BJP, with the help of its founder Muslim members, managed to expand its vote base and saw Muslim BJP leaders winning two seats in the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council-Leh (LAHDC) during the 2020 elections.
Meanwhile, the girl’s purported video went viral in Ladakh on Wednesday. She claimed in the video that it was “her personal decision to marry the man and took the decision because she was not a minor”.
“Inter-state, inter-caste and trans-country marriages are nothing new. In Ladakh too, marriages between Muslims and Buddhists do take place. I intended to marry my son within the community so that we are taken care of at this age. It didn’t happen. What can be done,” Mr. Khan added.