Pankaja Munde on Love Jihad

Love Believes In No Barriers: Pankaja Munde On ‘Love Jihad’

Responding to a media query on ‘love jihad’, BJP leader Pankaja Munde said on Sunday it wasn’t on the agenda of the central government.

Addressing a press conference in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, Munde said, “…I believe love is love. Love believes in no barrier. If two people have come together purely out of love, it should be respected. However, if a woman is tricked into an interfaith marriage, it should be seen differently.”

To a specific question on ‘love jihad’ during the press conference, the senior BJP leader said it has never been an agenda for the central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“No such subject as ‘love jihad’ has even been on the agenda of the Modi government. The discussions are always centred on development and redevelopment. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s focus is to put the country on the road to development and progress in the next 25 years,” said Munde.

However, on May 16, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said his government took a serious view of ‘love jihad’, ‘religious conversion’ and promotion of ‘terrorist activities’ and won’t allow such practices in the state.

CM Chouhan made the remark while speaking to reporters on the recent action taken by the Madhya Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) against members associated with the radical Islamic organisation, Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT), in the state capital Bhopal.

“We are getting into the depth of the facts that have come to the fore in connection with the HuT members. What is clear is that we have taken the issue of love jihad, religious conversion and promotion of terrorist activities very seriously. I want to make it clear that neither love jihad nor the vicious cycle of religious conversion would be tolerated in the state,” CM Chouhan said earlier.

He added, “Earlier, too, we had destroyed SIMI’s (Students’ Islamic Movement of India) network in the state and will not tolerate such activities at any cost. The investigation into the arrest of HuT members is underway. Madhya Pradesh ATS is working along with the central agencies in this regard.”

Ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections last year, the BJP had promised to bring a law against ‘love jihad’.

Meanwhile, underlining the key takeaways in 9 years of the central government under the leadership of PM Modi, Munde said on Sunday these years have been marked by all-round development and welfare policies. (ANI)

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Uttarkashi Tunnel Site

Strict Action Against ‘Love Jihad’ Cases: Uttarakhand CM Dhami

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Friday said that the State government has called for a strict probe and action against the ‘love jihad’ cases. Dhami also mentioned that he will be chairing a high-level meeting with the Director General of Police and other officials on the issue.

“We have called for strict probe and action against love jihad cases. Today we will chair a high-level meeting also with DGP and other officials,” Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said.
Uttarkashi town in the State recently witnessed tensions over an alleged abduction attempt on a 14-year-old girl by two men, including one from the minority community, last month, police said. Both men have been subsequently arrested.

Earlier this week BJP MP Sadhvi Paragya hit the headlines for saying that Hindu girls were being tricked by Muslim boys. “Hindu girls are being tricked under a conspiratorial mission. A minor girl was killed in Delhi. Girls need to be alert, their life is not safe. Hindus do not conspire against anyone.”

Last month, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that the State government took the issue of ‘love jihad’, ‘religious conversion’ and promotion of ‘terrorist activities’ seriously and will not allow such practices in the State.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had also stated last month that ‘Love Jihad’ is an agenda of “undeclared terrorism” against humanity. His remarks came after watching the special screening of ‘The Kerala Story’, a movie that stirred up a political storm in the country.

Adityanath had said, “The Kerala Story draws the attention of the entire nation to ‘Love Jihad’. The entire society must be made aware of this menace. A commendable and brave effort has been made in this regard by the film’s producer, director, and the entire team.” (ANI)

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‘We Must Find Other Ways to Counter Propaganda Films Than Banning’

Vidhu Vincent, a film director, writer and theatre activist from Kerala, recalls how propaganda films played a big role in the rise and growth of Nazism in Germany. Her views:

The Kerala Story, released recently has sparked off a controversy for its subject and treatment. There has been a widespread demand to ban the film as it promotes hatred against one community. The West Bengal government has banned it while BJP-ruled states have exempted from tax. In my opinion, it is not right to demand that the film should be banned. In that sense, filmmaker Sudhir Mishra, who has made yet another meaningful film called Afwah on the contradictions and tensions in contemporary India, is right: that no film should be banned and that there should be space for all opinions and perspectives in the cinema narrative – good or bad.

Mishra was talking about The Kashmir Files, where although he does not seem to agree with the content of the film, he would not seek a ban on it. Indeed, there should be reasonable debate and discussion about the film and let the audience watch it and make their observations about the film, however good or bad it might be.

Certainly, the right to freedom of expression is a constitutional right guaranteed in our pluralist and secular democracy, and everyone has every right to enjoy it. However, such propaganda films with apparently little regard for reality or facts, and with an ulterior motive to polarize or spread bad faith, needs to be countered in another way.

ALSO READ: ‘Kashmir Files A Political Ploy To Demonize Muslims’

We have to make real stories, big and small films, dramas, documentaries, literary works, refined and meaningful creations in arts, cinema and literature. We should write stories and poems etc., and show it in the public domain. Undoubtedly, this would be a strenuous and painstaking counter-action, but let the people decide what the real story is and what the reality is on the ground.

Vincent’s movie Manhole (left) won her the Kerala State Film Award for Best Director

Film critics have largely trashed The Kerala Story, with a prominentvoice describing it as “a poorly-made, poorly-acted rant which is not interested in interrogating the social complexities of Kerala, an India state proud of its multi-religious, multi-ethnic identity”. The quick change of the controversial film’s propaganda tag, to three women — from almost 30,000 women of Kerala who were allegedly converted to ISIS etc. — clearly shows how the film has been made up of lies. Now, everyone has been convinced of this lie because they had to correct it, during the judicial process where it was challenged.

It is historically well-known that the during the Nazi regime in Germany and the Holocaust that followed in parts of Europe, path-breaking filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s favourite film director, made propaganda films like Triumph of the Will and Berlin Olympics, in a gigantic scale. In those times, these motion\documentary pictures were generally recognized as an epical and innovative work of propaganda film-making. The film took Riefenstahl’s career to a new level and gave her further international recognition. Not only in Germany, these films have also been screened in other parts of the world.

These propaganda films had played a big role in the rise and growth of Nazism in Germany. Hence, there is no doubt that these propaganda films will work at some level during certain times. Hence, it is all the more important to counter it with a new, mainstream and parallel cinematic and artistic narrative, and defend this narrative using the tools of art, culture and aesthetics.

The narrator made her feature film debut with the Malayalam film Manhole, which won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Director. The film also won two awards at the 21st International Film Festival of Kerala, including the Best Debutant Director Award

As told to Amit Sengupta

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)