Millions of Livelihoods at Stake Amid Covid-19

‘CAA, Riots, Love Jihad… Where Will The Hounding Stop?’

Farheen Zaidi, 22, a student of Fine Arts in Delhi, says with millions of livelihoods at stake amid Covid-19, our leaders should redefine their priorities, and not constantly target one community

Where do I even begin? I don’t understand what is going on in our country for the past few years. First, the stalemate over Citizenship Amendment Act- and NRC, then the communal violence in Northeast Delhi and now a law against so called ‘love jihad’, which I do not even think, exists…

Where will this concerted and coordinated effort to target Muslims stop? Till a few years ago, the Hindu-Muslim rivalry was a one-off thing and people used to take extreme steps in the heat of the moment. But now it’s like this rivalry recurring periodically. There’s a constant undercurrent of hatred running in India these days.

Even the November 11 High Court order that UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Ji had cited to justify ‘love jihad’ law earlier, has now been overturned. The HC now says that it was ‘bad law’ and two consenting adults have the freedom to choose the way they want to conduct their lives. Love is a matter of the heart, how can it be governed by law?

I wonder if the people who talk about ‘love jihad’ even understand the meaning of love. It takes so much for people to be able to find another person who understands them well and how can they be judged by people who don’t even know them? If conversion has been done forcibly, be they of any religion, then the government can step in, but one can’t assume that people will behave a certain way and take pre-emptive measures.

ALSO READ: ‘Love Jihad Law Kills Beti Bachao Spirit’

Shouldn’t the government be worrying about and working upon handling the pandemic, or soon there will be no people left to fall in love with each other or marry. So many people have lost their jobs and livelihood because of the pandemic, and I feel the government should really give its priorities a rethink.

Farheen believes addressing loss of livelihoods amid Covid-19 must be a priority for leaders

This is not the time for people to feel hatred for each other. We all need each other to see ourselves through the coronavirus crisis. Our faiths should help us become better people and help each other and we need to fight coronavirus together. I sometimes feel sad about how we have changed as a country. When I was in school a few years ago, we had many friends from other faiths, but now just a few years later when I am still in college, our social circle has shrunk considerably. There is this whole ‘Hindu-Muslim’ talk going on always.

Sometimes I feel if the matter of ‘love jihad’ is so serious why doesn’t Modiji talk about it in his ‘Man Ki Baat’? He could give us examples when cases of people marrying someone just for the sake of converting them has come to light and talk about those cases from all angles. That could be the beginning of a serious dialogue on the topic, but in my life I have personally seen no such incident and feel it is a just a bogeyman of an issue.

ALSO READ: ‘Love And Jihad Don’t Go Hand In Hand’

And if the law is brought in, the poor of the poorest will suffer; the rich will take to legal recourse. I hope better sense prevails and more thought is given to social harmony. When people are secure in their own faiths and identities they don’t even try to convert people to their ideas, forget changing their religion.

Whatever decision Yogi Ji and his counterpart in Bihar, Nitish Kumar Ji take in this matter will have far reaching implications for the rest of the country. I am waiting to see what Nitish Ji has to say in this matter as the Chief Minister of a state where there is a large Muslim population.

‘Love Jihad Law Kills Beti Bachao, Beti Padaho Spirit’

Pooja Behl feels the proposed ‘Love Jihad’ law by the UP Govt is perhaps an attempt to disintegrate an inter-faith, pluralistic society and will create more trouble than solutions

I am a 23-year-old professional from Lucknow working in the finance sector and I am in a relationship with a person who practises a different faith than mine. We plan to marry in a couple of years from now, when we have both achieved a certain level of financial stability, independently. Of late, I have been reading and hearing a lot about ‘love jihad’ as well as a proposed law to discourage it.

Willy-nilly, this law amounts to: Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, lekin beti ke decision pe fir bharosa mat karo (Use slogans like ‘save the daughter, educate the daughter’, then do not allow her to take her life decisions, or impose your worldview on her). Apparently, this is the signal being sent by the government in Uttar Pradesh.

If you educate your daughter, understand that she is going to have a mind of her own, and definitely a heart of her own too. Of course, one does take family into consideration, but these are family matters that should be sorted within the family as to who a person wants to marry. The courts/government shouldn’t interfere into it.

If a person is wise enough at 18 to vote and choose their leaders who have the huge and nuanced task of running a country, they are also wise enough to choose their life partners. Just because of one case (Priyanka Kharwar and Mohammad Salamat), the government cannot make people think that it is the norm elsewhere too. The earlier ruling given in that case has anyway been overturned now.

The real name of the ‘Love Jihad’ Bill is Vidhi-Viruddh Dharmantaran Bill, which takes into account forced conversions of all religions and not only by Muslims. But in popular parlance because of the word ‘Jihad’, only Muslims will be impacted. I feel they are trying to please both the intellectuals and non-intellectuals with this word-jugglery.

As someone who is in love with a Muslim man, I find this process in extremely bad taste. One does not take a likening to someone on the basis of their caste, community or faith etc. One merely takes a person’s heart into consideration, as to how that person makes one feel and how we feel when we care for them and their loved ones and families.

ALSO READ: ‘Love And Jihad Can’t Go Hand In Hand’

It is important for a country’s social structure that people live in happy marriages. If someone complains to the authority about problems in their marriage, then the government and courts may intervene. But bringing in the ‘Love Jihad’ kind of laws would be pre-empting things so far into the future that it becomes more of a problem than a solution.

My partner and I have talked marriage and we respect each other’s faiths and no one is going to convert to another’s faith. Our identity is for a large part dependent on the faith we practice and is one of the major reasons we fall in love with people. Someone who loves another truly wouldn’t want to change anything about that person, not even an inch, asking them to change the whole way they ‘practice’ (perfecting) their faith is totally out of question.

My parents have raised me very lovingly and we always listen to each other’s opinions respectfully. Open-minded and communicative parents leave their children a beautiful legacy and I wish, like parents, if the government really saw love jihad as such a huge issue, they should have initiated dialogues about it, rather than using it as poll rhetoric. I had never heard of the term ‘love jihad’ as a child, I started hearing it only in the recent years. I hope I stop hearing it soon.

(Representational picture used to keep the identity of narrator anonymous)