Syed Ali Mujtaba
Indian mass-media insinuating reportage under the suggestive heading “Love Jihad” is yet another example of bad journalism in the largest democracy of the world.
The term ‘Love Jihad’ was used by local media in southern state of Kerala to label inter-religious relationships, allegedly aimed at converting women to Islam, has done more harm then good to the multicultural Indian society.
These sort of inter-religious marriages have been taking place throughout India since several thousands years both ways. There had been thousands of Muslim boys and girls who have taken Hindu spouses and Vice-Versa. Some have changed their religion other live without any change in religion in a state of matrimonial bliss. Indian constitution allows and legalizes inter-caste and inter-religious marriages aiming at greater integration of Indian society.
The usage ‘Love Jihad’ was coined by the local press when two Hindu girls, both MBA students, married two Muslim boys Shahen Shah and Sirajudheen, natives of Pathanamthitta village in Kerala, apparently on their own wish as were adults. These girls were living with their husbands, when their parents filed habeas corpus in the Kerala High Court.
The girls, in response to the summon appeared in the court wearing traditional Muslim Burqa and reportedly asked the court’s permission to live with their husbands, as they would not be able to live according to their religious faith when with parents.
The court however turned their request and sent them to live with the parents, directing the parents to provide all help for the girls to follow their new religion.
A twist in the tale emerges when the girls were presented in the court next time, where they retracted their early version and said that the boys had forcefully converted them to Islam.
A hell broke loose and local media lapped this up with screaming headline ‘Love Jihad’ on the prowl. It was on the basis of the confessional statements of the girls and due to media trial that the two Muslim youth were arrested on charges of having feigned love and marriage to convert to the Hindu girls to Islam.
The Kerala High Court while considering the bail applications of Shahen Shah and Sirajudheen, the two accused in Love Jihad controversy ordered inquiry into the matter. The court asked the state police to submit a report on the occurrence of compulsive religious love based conversions that have taken place in Kerala during the last three years. It also raised questions like to find if there was a movement called “Love Jihad” functioning in the state
The police after initiating an inquiry submitted its report to the court where it said that it has found no organization or movement in the name of “Love Jihad” functioning in Kerala.
The report submitted by Mr Jacob Punnoose, Director General of Police, in the Kerala High Court, says no evidence has been found regarding the functioning of any such organization dealing with forced conversion in the state.
The report further says that there was no evidence for such activities getting funds from abroad and no proof for such activities being connected to counterfeiting, smuggling, and drug trafficking and terrorist activities. It found no evidence for such activities going on in other parts of the country.
The report further reiterates that except for the two cases under consideration in the court, there have not been any cases regarding forced conversions based on love. The police had registered complaints and were actively investigating the matter in the two cases mentioned.
The report submitted by the DGP mentions that there have been allegations from many corners that such activities were going on in the state for the past few years but after investigation it was found that there are no reasons to suspect the existence of concerted attempts to force girls into conversion.
As evident that there was enough juice in the story and the local media went gaga with damning headline of ‘Love Jihad’ never considering the consequences such reportage would have on the society, especially if such story is put in the garbage bin by the court and the police.
In related development, Shahen Shah and Sirajudheen, the accused boys, have decided to withdraw their bail applications submitted at the Kerala High Court as they reportedly felt were not sure of getting justice in the prevailing circumstances. They are widely hunted by the media in the “Love Jihad” controversy and may not lead normal life if they come out on bail.
The ‘Love Jihad’ story is a glaring example of irresponsible journalism that’s going on in the country particularly at the regional centers. The media instead of highlighting the fact that the girls in question could have easily told the judge in their first appearance that they had undergone forced conversion, but instead asserted were convinced converts but later retracted their version, is something that’s intriguing and needs to be investigated. Instead, it simply tried to peddle the gig “Love Jihad” to sensationalize a simple story that had a human face.
It’s a fact that such biased reportage crops up with impunity in the country and until and unless, some mechanism is evolved to check them sternly, Indian society may continue to be poisoned by such irresponsible journalism.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
On Sat, 24/10/09, prasanth lal
From: prasanth lal
Subject: Facts about Love Jihad
To: syedalimujtaba@ yahoo.com
Date: Saturday, 24 October, 2009, 4:09 AM
On your article about "Love Jihad" looks like you have conveniently ignored certain parts of Kerala DGP's report also you have given factually incorrect information. Kerala DGP said that though there are no organisation called "Love Jijhad"- ofcourse its a media coined name- there is scope for suspicion that an organized racket is working towards "loving women and converting them " to Islam and this matter needs to be further probed. DGP clearly said that, "from different sources he has confirmation about the existence of such a racket and hence it need to be probed. Now, if you look at the cases, both the MBA students from kerala was going through a conversion process in a center in Malapuuram. On a separate incident a girl from Mangalore was also eloped with her muslim BF and was going through same process in the same center. (Rings a BELL????) Its all organized and the boys are getting financially rewarded from middle eastern sources. Have you heard about the "Coptic Christian conversrion" scheme in Egypt in 80s and 90? It was well documented and reported that a saundi funded proffessional organisation was paying Egyptian men to convert Coptic Crhistian girls in Egypt after pretending to love them. Ofcourse, you are biased hence would be closed to the facts. You might even argue that 9/11 was a hindu/jew conspiracy.. ... may allah save your ilk.
My dear reader, I thank you for reading my article and caring to write to me your reactions. I don’t want to reply to you on the impression you have formed about me and also what I have conceptualized about you, but let me first tell you, my article was not on the details of the story but on the evils of sensational journalism, a profession to which I belong, and I feel I must speak against such irresponsible representation. It was the journalist in me that was dominating but I guess the readers mind got carried away my name. Well I really can not do much about this, as everyone has freedom of choice and to form opinion.
Now coming to the content of the story, I based my submission on the DGP’s report that was the actual findings and the conclusion.. In journalism there is no place for MAYBE and so there is no need to highlight what remains in the relearn of conjecture and suspicion. The DGP clearly says that there was no evidence to prove that such thing is part of organized crime and this closes the argument. His conjectures s it is does not have any locus-standi. I get the impression that you are more carried away by the DGP's conjuncture then his actual findings. Well again I don’t have any issues on that as you have freedom of choices.
In modern age no one can impose ones faith on other. The girls in question were not minor and uneducated who can be tricked. They were adult and have chosen to go into the wedlock on their on sweet wish. Same holds true of the change their faith that was out of conviction rather than forced conversion. If they were forced tp change the faith, they could have filed a case under Sections 304B and 498a that empowers women specially those who are married. However, it seems when they went to the parents, they changed their stand perhaps were brainwashed and forced to retract from their earlier stand. This is matter of investigation and truth will come out once the case is disposed. Any conclusion drawn on this again is a matter of choice.
I write this because this diabolic design of the RSS are making rounds for long and poisoning the Indian society. There were similar reports from Bhopal where a Muslim youth married a Hindu girl and it created a furor in the society. It was seen as part of the 'love jihad theory. However investigation later revealed that it was concocted story spread by the Sangh Privar that prey on the Hindu sentiments to create WE verses THEY divide.
I wonder why does not the RSS and its subscribers take up the case of “love jihad” and frame Sharukh Khan, Amir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Mansoor Ali Khan, Naseeruddin Shah Etc into this conspiracy theory. I wish if that happens it will be a party time for media 24x7. If I remember rightly, there was a diktat from the RSS that Hindus should refrain from seeing movies where a Muslim acts as a heroes. If any one has taken this seriously, the Bollywood hunks may by have been out of business by now.
Well the purpose of my article was to expose the fallacies of non ethical journalism and also to set the records right as many reports have tried to highlight the conjecture part of the DGP’s report, underplaying the facts of his findings. It was also to debunk the make believe theory that demonize Muslim community and unleash a reign of terror against innocent Muslim youth ( read Rizwan's case) who are smitten by love, the gospel Bollywood preaches day in and day out.
As I have written, inter religious marriages are happening in the country from time immemorial. The only difference now is its process has accelerated due to the modernization and westernization of the society. The age of communication revolution has facilitated the process of meeting and interaction with the cross section of the society, and the freedom of choices to pickup a partner has increased many fold. Today;s youth are not ready remain under the shackles and ready to break any boundaries. This has to be accepted as a reality of the contemporary Indian society. Those who construe such development as organized crime, are sick persons, and need counseling how to grapple with the stark realties of time. - SAM