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Baloney of Love Jihad

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Lies have short lives, especially when they are employed for influencing public opinion. The baloney of Love Jihad may have done some benefit to the right wing forces in the communally sensitive region of Uttar Pradesh in general elections, but have come unstuck very soon. It is evident from the results in the by-elections in the 12 Assembly segments (including Kairana seat where elections were held on Oct. 13). The axiom that all people cannot be fooled all the time packs in itself a lot of substance. The BJP which swayed the voters in the Hindi belt with a package of falsehoods, half-truths and outright lies, should find itself mired in the mess created by its ideologues and cadres. The Meerut girl who fled her parental home to file an FIR against kidnapping and incarceration, has unveiled the larger designs for the communal harvest of votes.
The oxymoron of ‘Love Jihad’ had a short shelf life. There can be coercive marriages but not coercive love. Love is instinctive and blooms in hearts. People do not live like frozen cubes in a plural society, howsoever votaries of religious fundamentalists may like or dislike it. There are bound to be marriages as well as conflicts, notwithstanding bars, bans, and religious diktats. There are perhaps as many Muslim girls married to Hindu men as there are Hindu women married to Muslim men. However, there is a difference. There have been more celebrated cases in the latter category, merely for the fact that elite Hindu society has been more liberal, amenable and open to such alliances. In either case, there should be no room for triumphalism (when a girl from the other side is married into the fold of one’s own community), nor should it lead to a sense of loss. No amount of interfaith marriages are going to alter the social demography of the nation in near future.
Patriarchy runs deep into the Indian psyche and the society, be it Hindus or Muslims. Girls have little choice in matters of selecting a spouse for them. According to a survey, 40% of the rape cases registered in Delhi are in fact elopement cases where the girl and boy would have fled after falling in love. But parents embarrassed with intercaste or interfaith nature of these alliances, insist them to be ‘rape’ in police record.
Yet things are not as simple as feminists would like to see them. There are indeed fears among people belonging to all communities, when a marriage is outcome of love rather than parental will in India. Marriage, pregnancy, childbirth are associated with females and parents of girls have to be wary of biological aftermath. Questions such as, ‘What if such marriages do not work for long? Where exactly the offspring would be socially located? What if the boy is not economically responsible?” have no ready answers. These are certainly not communally motivated worries but add a further layer of angst. Furthermore, age of economic stability in India does not synchronise with age of exercising free will in matters of marriage. Finally one has to reckon with question as to what if the elopements results merely in socially frowned live-in relationships, and not marriage. But to reduce the issue as a willful, devious ploy by the other community to win female folk, would be to look at it from a very biased angle. Whether one would like it or not, such marriages do serve to blur the communal fault lines in a fractious society where plenty of other factors constantly reinforce them.