October 20, 2014

India: Myths and Prejudices about 'Love Jihad' (Jyoti Punwani)

via: Economic and Political Weekly, Vol - XLIX No. 42, October 18, 2014

Myths and Prejudices about 'Love Jihad'

by Jyoti Punwani

The case histories of seven Muslim-Hindu couples not only give the lie to assertions of the "love-jihad" propagandists, they also bust a lot of generallyaccepted anti-Muslim prejudices.

Jyoti Punwani (jyoti.punwani@gmail.com) is a Mumbai-based freelance journalist and human rights activist.

The case histories of seven Muslim-Hindu couples not only give the lie to assertions of the “love-jihad” propagandists, they also bust a lot of generally- accepted anti-Muslim prejudices.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) “love jihad” campaign needs to be taken seriously not because there is an element of truth in it, but because it builds on deeply felt assumptions about Muslims among a majority of non-Muslims. That is one of the reasons it has found resonance among non-Muslims, not just Hindus, wherever the campaign has been unleashed in the recent past whether in Kerala or Karnataka and now in Uttar Pradesh (UP). Another reason to take this campaign seriously is the belief common among all Indians that young women cannot think for themselves and are easily swayed. Finally, of course, there is the age-old association of daughters with family and community honour and the resultant desire to control them.

It is generally assumed that Muslims are fanatics or at least conservative, violent beef-eaters who marry four times, suppress their women and breed like rabbits. Apart from the loss of face if their daughters marry outside their own faith, most non-Muslim parents fear for their daughters’ happiness were they to marry Muslims and live in a Muslim environment. This came across in a study conducted by this writer on interfaith marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims in 2002-03, the results of which were published in the book Inter-religious Marriages among Muslims: Negotiating Religious Identity in Family and Community by Abdullahi A An-Na’im of Emory University.

I recently spoke to Hindu women married to Muslim men to see if things have changed since that study, done over a decade ago. Alas, the assumptions remain unchanged. “Marry anyone but a Muslim or a dalit”, was the warning still being handed out to daughters. Interestingly, the addition of dalits to the category of Muslims, hitherto the only forbidden community among Hindus, is new. Could it be that 10 years ago, non-dalit Hindu parents were sure that their daughters would never encounter dalits in their social circle?

Even at that time, most Hindu parents used to find to their pleasant surprise that their fears about Muslims were untrue. But now, these prejudices are proving to be even more baseless.

Conspiracies and Facts

The propagators of the love jihad campaign have made conversion to Islam the cornerstone of their theory. They espouse the view that it is an international Islamic conspiracy to increase the Muslim population. It is true that most non-Muslims, women or men, do convert to Islam when they marry Muslims. That is because the Muslim marriage ceremony or nikaah, is not valid unless both parties are “people of the Book”. (Islam considers Christians and Jews as people of the Book. But the Muslim clergy in India allow only Muslim men to marry Jewish and Christian girls without converting them. They forbid Muslim women from marrying Christian and Jewish men arguing that these men will force the Muslim women to convert.)

Like all parents Muslim parents too insist on a religious marriage, and often the non-Muslim partner agrees to it to please the in-laws knowing it entails conversion. Sometimes of course the Muslim spouse-to-be also insists on it.

However, of the seven Hindu women I interviewed recently only three had converted – one on the insistence of her mother-in-law, the second on the insistence of her spouse, and the third of her own volition. In the first two cases, the conversion was a mere formality. Both women retain their maiden names, and do not practise Islam. Yet they continue to be treated with affection by their in-laws.

It is interesting to see how they reacted during the conversion. Rama Shyam who was then a student in the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), told the maulvi conducting the nikaah that her name should be written down as it was on the nikaahnama. Her husband Masood Akthar supported her. However, the maulvi wrote it as Raima. But she continues to be called Rama by her in-laws and by the Muslim neighbourhood where she lives and where she and her husband run Saher, a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

In the second case, it was the husband who wanted his wife to become a Muslim so that they could have a nikaah. “I am from a village, we are a conservative family, and I wanted a nikaah”, said Tariq Ahmed (name changed), a professional from Malegaon working in Mumbai. Yet, it is interesting to see what he felt when the conversion actually took place.

His wife Indu (name changed), a working woman, narrated the episode without much emotion: “I knew I would have to convert to be accepted by Tariq’s family, as they are traditional Muslims and Malegaon is a Muslim stronghold. It would have been very difficult for them to explain why their daughter-in-law had not converted; it was much easier for me to convert. Tariq’s sister took me to a mosque in Mumbai and I got converted.”

Tariq’s narration however, is quite different.

After the conversion, when she was signing the gazette for recording her change of name, I saw her thumb trembling. I could see she was feeling this would change her life, her identity. As soon as the signing was over I assured her, ‘The gazette is a formality. You keep your own name, your own identity.’ I have explained to my father that in her profession she is known by her own name. What is in a name after all.

Tariq admits that he wanted Indu to become a Muslim. However, he has not insisted on her following any Muslim practices.

She has never been a devout Hindu, so how can I tell her to be a devout Muslim? I do not want to be called a fanatic. I do tell her to ask for duas (blessings) for us occasionally. Last year she fasted for a day during Ramzan and later made it two days. But she could not cope so I told her to stop. Some families are very strict about these things. But there are more women in my family. You can say it’s women-dominated and therefore not very strict! When we visit Malegaon and my sisters-in-law sometimes comment on her not covering her head, I ask them whether they cover theirs all the time, and that shuts them up.

The third woman was a Hanuman Chaalisa-reciting Rajput, not allowed to socialise even with girls. Yet, she converted without hesitation.

It’s the Indian tradition for the wife to adopt the husband’s culture. That is how I was brought up. So I was mentally ready for conversion

says Uma (name changed), a lawyer who studied law after marriage.

Had I married the man my parents had chosen for me, I would have willingly adapted to life in Rajasthan, though I was a Mumbai girl. Had I married a Christian, I would have wanted to convert. In fact, I even wanted to wear the burqa, though no one in my husband’s family does so. But he told me: ‘No burqa when you come out with me!’

Indeed, the fear that their daughters would have to wear the burqa is one among the many that preys on the minds of Hindu parents. However, the women I interviewed had to dress traditionally and cover their heads when they visited their husband’s village – which they would have had to do even if their husbands had been Hindu. Two of the women keep no idols in the house in deference to their husbands’ wishes, but the men accompany them to Durga Puja pandals.

Unfair Categorising

Why did not the rest of the Muslim men insist on conversion? This question annoyed Nadeem Shah, a lecturer in history in Delhi. He said

The media is so immature that it cannot conceive that there could be a substantial number of Muslim men who would give a damn about having a nikaah. That for many young Muslims, religious identity hardly matters when choosing a life partner. I’m from Saharanpur, culturally very rooted, but converting my wife did not even occur to me. And no one in my family would dare talk to me about it. But the media will simply categorises me as ‘Muslim’, like it does Yadavs or Jats, as if we are just herds of cattle.

Shah comes from one of the old, elite families of Saharanpur and his uncle is the sajjaad-e-nasheen (hereditary administrator) of a well-known dargah there. His wife Juanita Kakoti says this uncle received her with as much warmth as the rest of the family. In fact, after some initial talk of a change of name, rejected by Juanita, the marriage was finally conducted in Assamese Hindu style with a havan and pheras, etc, in Guwahati. “Nadeem’s parents told me ‘we’ve had three nikaahs in our family. You are the only daughter and we know how parents dream about their daughter’s wedding. So they should do it their way’”, recounted Juanita. “Not only did they participate in the ceremony but after the wedding was over my father-in-law even called up his relatives in Saharanpur and announced joyously ‘Congratulations! Shaadi ho gayi.’” The Hindu ceremony was, for Juanita’s family, the perfect end to six years of negotiations with a daughter who showed no signs of changing her mind over marrying not just a Muslim, but a north Indian at that. Interestingly they would have been less upset about an Assamese Muslim son-in-law!

Nadeem was not the only Muslim to willingly have a Hindu wedding ceremony. Asif Iqbal offered to do so to win over his reluctant parents-in-law to be but to no avail. He and wife Ranu Kulshreshta, both hail from Uttar Pradesh and run Dhanak in Delhi, an organisation that helps interfaith and intercaste couples marry under the Special Marriage Act (SMA). They had a civil marriage and have retained their original names and religious identities.

Heroic Tales

Perhaps the story that most convincingly breaks the conversion myth is that of Masood Akthar (mentioned above and married to Rama Shyam) and his father. Unlike the other Muslim men interviewed here, Akhtar is not highly educated. He is a standard XII dropout from a Muslim ghetto in Jogeshwari east, a Mumbai suburb that has seen repeated riots. He was picked up from his home during the 1992-1993 post-Babri Masjid demolition riots in the city, along with other Muslims. Just 18 years old then, he was charged with rioting and thrown into jail for two months. The police beat all those arrested along with him and taunted them about their religion, he recalls. He was finally acquitted almost 20 years later.

Here was a man who would have been expected to turn into a fanatic and a bitter man. Instead, Akhtar fell in love with a Hindu woman and announced to his family that she would not convert. When she seemed ready to give in to his family’s pressure, he told her to stay firm.

Akhtar ascribes this to the way his father brought him up. A Bihari without any formal education he came to Mumbai to make his living. His father rarely offered namaz, warned his children to be wary of daadhi-topiwalas (maulanas) and every Diwali, took them to his factory to distribute sweets and crackers to his Hindu workers. His children grew up with Hindu and Christian friends; one of his sons married a Christian. The father was the only one who supported Akhtar’s decision not to have the woman he wanted to marry convert, declaring that even if no one else did, he would attend the court wedding. When his wife (Akhtar’s mother) wanted her daughter-in-law to wear a burqa, he pointed out that she did not wear one herself. He also supported Rama’s desire to continue her studies and work after marriage.

But despite his father’s support, it took Akhtar eight years to marry Rama. Her parents were not ready, and he would not marry her without their approval. “I could understand their concerns. Given the image of Muslims, they would naturally be worried about their daughter’s security”, he says. The same circumspection was displayed by another Muslim who, like Akhtar, lives in a Muslim ghetto. When his Hindu girlfriend’s family refused permission, saying they had already committed their daughter to someone else, he broke the relationship despite the girl’s protests, advising her to obey her parents. He married her only after she ran away from home and told him to shelter her in his house. The parents brought the police to his house but they refused to interfere after realising that the bride was an adult. To persuade his in-laws, this young Muslim suggested they host a marriage reception for their daughter to which he would invite only his non-Muslim friends, not even his family. Even that did not work, and for seven years they refused to communicate with their daughter. Finally, it was their son who forced them to invite her for his marriage. They invited her, but not her husband. She refused to go.

The myth of Big Brother who swears to “protect” his sister’s “honour” by preventing her from “going astray” was also blown apart in this survey. In most of these cases, it was the brothers and brothers-in-law who intervened on their sisters’ behalf to convince the reluctant parents.

Krishna Dhamankar was one such Big Brother. When his younger sister insisted on continuing her relationship with her Muslim neighbour Krishna beat him and got the police to throw him into the lock-up. This was 30 years ago. Today, Krishna describes his brother-in-law as

God’s good man. Though I beat him so badly at that time, he never raised a hand on me. He sends his sons to help me with my Ganapati preparations, and it’s he who carries the idol for immersion. He consults me on everything – from buying a new house to choosing husbands for his daughters. At their wedding, he makes me sit near the kazi. And he treats my sister like a queen – even helping her wash dishes.

So does he see nothing wrong in Hindu girls marrying Muslims? “If the boys are like my brother-in-law, there is nothing wrong.”

If the love jihad propaganda insults Muslim men, it demeans Hindu women, assuming that they get easily seduced. But none of the women interviewed had taken the plunge impulsively; instead, they had waited years for their parents to agree, trying all the while to convince them. Indeed, what emerges from these cases is the stubborn refusal of Hindu parents, whether in cosmopolitan Mumbai or small-town Durgapur, to see beyond the religious identity of the men chosen by their daughters. As Uma told her parents “You live in a modern city but your minds are closed. You educated me, but you don’t want me to think for myself.”

Indu’s parents simply refused to take her seriously whenever she broached the topic of marrying Tariq, even when she announced the date, after having waited for them to say yes for nine-and-a-half years. They did not attend the wedding, and came to meet her only when she was in hospital during her pregnancy. The way Tariq tended to her in hospital won them over.

Unmatched Hypocrisy

How deep the prejudices against Muslims are was best illustrated in Rama Shyam’s case. While her college dropout husband Akhtar and his uneducated father living in a lower-middle-class Muslim ghetto were liberal enough to accept her as a Hindu, her own wealthy, educated, progressive parents, took eight years to accept her decision. They had brought up their daughters as uncompromising feminists and her mother had even retained her maiden name. Her father had made her learn the poetry of Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam, and study Urdu under a maulvi so that she could appreciate Urdu poetry. The family had Kashmiri Muslim tenants, and her mother’s tailor would break his Ramzan fast in their house in Durgapur with her mother preparing his iftaari. Yet, when the Babri Masjid was demolished, Rama heard them tell their friends “Now Muslims will learn a lesson.”

When Rama announced her decision to marry Akhtar, and stuck to it, her mother attempted suicide. Her parents refused to meet Akhtar. It was only the intervention by Rama’s sister and brother-in-law, and the fact that she was planning to continue with her PhD after marriage, instead of being confined to her home as they had imagined that brought them around. However, even four years after her marriage, they have never invited their son-in-law home

These women do not fit the image of the love-struck, helpless with desire, giddy-headed girl who elopes with her irresistible Muslim lover, as portrayed by the love jihad campaigners. Most of them took years to convince their parents, a process far from pleasant. As Rama put it, “I would never wish anyone to go through the trauma I had to.” But despite the odds, these women did not waver in their decision. Indeed, having married Muslims, they have come face to face with the prejudice Muslims face in society. Finding a house has been difficult for most. Rama, who lives with her husband in the same ghetto where they met when she was a student (she had been assigned to work among the Muslims there), has seen the way Muslim ghettos are neglected by the state. The couple live there though they can afford to move out, only because as Rama says, “we do not want to break my mother-in-law’s heart.” Uma was newly married and living in the heart of a Muslim area when the 1992-93 Mumbai riots took place. The partisan conduct of the police shocked her. “I’m from a services family. The armed forces risk their lives to protect all Indians. How could the police protect only Hindus?”, she asks.

The men on their part, far from seducing these Hindu women and instantly converting them, as love jihadis are supposed to, have given the women the time and space they needed, both before and after marriage. They too have braved the taunts of officials. “Are you kidnapping her?” Danish (name changed) was asked by the district commissioner of Chandigarh when he went to give notice of his wedding to Chitra (name changed) accompanied by Chitra’s parents! The district commissioner refused to accept the notice on a technicality. When Ranu and Asif went to the Noida registrar’s office, he praised them for their bold step but turned them away, saying he did not want any trouble in his area.

Dhanak’s experience confirms that no interfaith couple wants to go against the wishes of their parents. “They need the blessings and support of their elders and often take the time needed”, says Asif Iqbal. “Even if they are fortunate enough to solemnise their marriage under the Special Marriage Act, they have a religious marriage in addition, to remain associated with their elders. Often, they convert because that is the quickest and easiest way out. The state does not make it easy to register marriages; the procedures should be simplified.”

Media’s Role

The other assumption of the love jihad campaign is that only Hindu women marry Muslim men. Though that is more common because Hindu girls have more freedom than Muslim girls, the latter too are asserting themselves, says Ranu, and choosing their own partners. In fact, according to Dhanak’s data based on the number of cases dealt with during the past 10 years, 37% Muslim and Christian females are marrying out of their faith in comparison with 49% Hindu females doing so. Of these 37% females, 32% are Muslim.

Dhanak’s experience shows that Muslim women face the same opposition from their families as Hindu ones. In fact, Asif himself has received calls from Muslims asking him to stop Dhanak’s activities as they “promote sin” by encouraging civil marriages, where neither side converts. Rama has seen Muslim women who have married Hindus having to change their names and give up namaz, in short, de-Islamise themselves. Is that not “love jihad”, she asks.

Says Ranu, “Inter-faith marriages should be celebrated. The media should not make them into tales of misery.” Among all these cases, one stands out for the lack of opposition from both sides: the story of two Delhi academics. Chitra spent a year wondering how to tell her parents she wanted to marry Danish. When she did they astonished her by saying they had suspected it from the start and were wondering when she would break the news! There was no question of conversion; the couple had a civil marriage. Danish’s parents had had an interfaith marriage, his mother was a Sikh who had retained her maiden name. Having faced tremendous opposition from her family during her marriage, she was determined to protect her daughter-in-law from similar treatment. Chitra’s parents are proud of the way she has adjusted to a different culture. Danish ascribes it all to the class factor, the fact that he is a Doon school and St Stephen’s product, that he did not fit the image of a “typical” Muslim. Most of these couples are bringing up their children to be familiar with both religions. Perhaps this new generation that will be simultaneously Hindu and Muslim will lay to rest forever the myth of “love jihad”.

India: The curious reward-and-retribution handouts for top Gujarat cops, babus (R.K. Misra)

Outlook Magazine, 27 October 2014

Gujarat: administration
Snakes & Ladders At Work
The curious reward-and-retribution handouts for top Gujarat cops, babus

To some they are heroes, but in the eyes of the Gujarat government, they are villains. Satish Verma and Rajnish Rai, both IPS officers, were each assigned a police encounter case.  They concluded from their investigations that policemen had killed persons in their custody in cold blood. They filed cases against policemen involved and arrested them. For their efforts, the Gujarat government has banished them to Meghalaya and Jharkhand as chief vigilance officers (CVOs) at PSUs. This is designed to make it difficult for them to follow up and depose in the cases investigated by them.
Can senior IPS officers of the rank of IG and DIGs be posted as CVOs without their consent and without seeking applications from others? The Central Admin­istrative Tribunal (CAT), Delhi, is yet to resolve that question. Arguments are to be heard in November. However, it has refused to grant an interim stay on the Gujarat government’s deputation orders, so Verma and Rai have reported for duty in Shillong and Jaduguda. Could this be an indication of the way the case might go? The two officers will in all likelihood spend years running from court to court.
The Gujarat administration has acted petulant at times. On one occasion, it tried to implicate Rai in a strange case: he was accused of cheating while appearing in an LLB examination. He moved the Gujarat High Court, which gave the government a stunning rebuke by quashing proceedings against him. Verma and Rai say they are being punished for doing their job. The say the deputation to PSUs was vindictive and against regulations.
Rahul Sharma is another IPS officer locked in a tedious battle with the Guja­rat government. His travails began when he acted decisively against a rampaging mob during the 2002 riots in Bhavnagar, of which he was then police chief. He was promptly transferred to the control room in Ahmedabad. In 2004, Sharma had submitted sensational CDs before the Nanavati-Shah commission probing the 2002 riots. They contained details of cellphone calls made in Ahmedabad during the crucial periods of rioting. Through location and other details, it established interlinks between rioters, top cops, politicians and administrative officials. Sharma was subjected to harassment and served with six showcause notices, some on frivolous grounds: making spelling mistakes in official documents or correspondence; sanctioning cash awards of Rs 100 to his subordinates for efficient performance, and so on. A day before his promotion was due, the government slapped a chargesheet on him. He moved the CAT, seeking that the tribunal quash the chargesheet and the showcause notices. Initially, CAT granted a stay on the government action, but later vacated it, saying Sharma had moved the tribunal prematurely. He then moved the high court, which restrained the government from taking any action against him until the CAT concluded its hearing on his plea.
IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt and IAS officer Pradeep Sharma (now under suspension) have similar stories of government harassment. Bhatt has been facing the state government’s ire since his statement that he was present at a meeting at which chief minister Narendra Modi had asked police and officials to go easy on rioters in the 2002 communal riots. He has been under suspension since 2011. In 2013, the state government had written to the Union home ministry, seeking Bhatt’s dismissal. The home ministry has proposed that the UPSC take strict disciplinary action against Bhatt. He had also been arrested in 2011: a constable had complained that Bhatt had forced him to file an affidavit stating that Bhatt was present at the meeting called by the CM.



Officers who do the bidding of their political bosses will be rewarded—that’s the signal from the Gujarat government.

There is another side to the story. The Gujarat government has also rewarded some IPS officers. And these are officers who have spent time in jail—the infamous Abhay Chudasama and G.L. Singhal. Chudasama was one of the main accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case; Singhal was an accused in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. Chudasama had spent four years in jail; Singhal, a little more than one year. Both had been granted regular bail this year. The government was quick to withdraw their suspension and reinstate them. This could give them the leeway to influence the prosecution of the charges they face. It was for this very reason the SC had shifted the Sohrabuddin case out of Gujarat and debarred home minister Amit Shah from Gujarat. Probed by the CBI, the Ishrat Jahan case is on in Ahme­dabad, the Sohrabuddin case in Mumbai. Singhal has reportedly confessed to have recorded the proceedings of an important meeting. Also of telephone conversations between him and his superiors. He apparently handed over a pendrive with the recordings to the CBI, which has filed a chargesheet against him in the Ishrat Jahan case. Singhal even sent a letter of resignation. But the government overlooked all this, ended his suspension and reinstated him. Chudasama and Singhal were considered close to Amit Shah. Considerable backroom manoeuvring is reported to have taken place before Chudasama agreed to the post he would be assigned to. He had been keen to occupy a high-profile post, and seems to have had his way: he has been made an SP in the state top cop’s vigilance squad. It works directly under the director-general of police and enjoys overarching powers to conduct raids and make arrests without the usual jurisdictional restrictions.
News has also come of another set of officers from Gujarat being rewarded for working to the needs of their political bosses when Narendra Modi was chief minister. After Modi’s taking charge as prime minister, they are being brought to Delhi to do duty at the Centre. Among them are Rakesh Asthana, an IPS officer of the 1984 batch, presently posted as police commissioner of Surat; and A.K. Sharma, a joint comissioner (crime branch) in the Ahmedabad city police. Asthana has been cleared by the Union home ministry for the post of joint director in the CBI. Sharma is said to be in the reckoning for another key position.
Perhaps the Gujarat government is reacting to the lamentations of D.G. Vanzara, another IPS officer incarcerated in the Sohrabuddin case. Vanzara had written a bitter letter, widely reproduced by the media, that said that he and other some others officers had been left to the hounds  after having done the bidding of political bosses and senior officers. By getting people like Chu­dasama and Singhal out of tight spots, the signal being sent out is that police officers and bureaucrats who are loyal to their political bosses will be taken care of; and officers like Verma, Rai, Bhat, Rahul Sharma and Pradeep Sharma will be punished.
The bad cops are back in business; the good cops are in the boondocks.

By R.K. Misra in Gandhinagar

AJC vows to contest US State Department's "suggestion of immunity" to PM Narendra Modi

American Justice Center vows to contest US State Department's "suggestion of immunity" to PM Modi 

October 20, 2014

New York, USA: The American Justice Center (AJC), an organization that has filed a lawsuit against the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for genocide and crimes against humanity, has vowed to contest vigorously the "Suggestion of Immunity" filed by the US Administration in the Alien Tort case filed against Mr. Modi when he visited the United States in late September 2014. Modi has been widely accused by national and international human rights organizations for presiding over mass violence against Muslims which resulted in the killing of over 2,000 people and included mass rapes against minority women.

In its suggestion to the US District Court, filed by the United States government through Attorney Preet Bharara, the government has argued for immunity to Prime Minister Modi on grounds of Mr. Modi being the "sitting head of government of the Republic of India."

AJC has drawn attention to the fact that the summons were issued on the grounds that even though Modi is the sitting Prime Minister, he can't escape prosecution for actions prior to assuming the Prime Minister's office. In fact, such precedence already exists in the case of former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, who was taken to court by US based human rights groups for his complicity in mass violence against Sikhs. On August 20, 2014, US District Judge James Boasberg in the District of Columbia ruled in the case against Dr. Manmohan Singh that immunity as head of state applied only to acts committed during his tenure as Prime Minister, and did not cover his tenure as Finance Minister prior to becoming the Prime Minister.

In the case of Mr. Narendra Modi, the case brought by victims of the Gujarat pogroms of 2002, are related to acts committed during Mr. Modi's tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat, long before he became India's Prime Minister.

"We will challenge the suggestion of immunity by the US Government," said Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, attorney for the AJC. "The suggestion by the US Department of State not only violates the US laws and established US policy on the issue of human rights violations but also violates several provisions of US Laws such as Human Rights Enforcement Act and International Religious Freedom Act," added Mr. Pannun.

"While it is deeply regrettable that the United States has decided to claim immunity for PM Modi at the urging of Indian government, it is heartening however to note the suggestion of immunity clearly states the "United States expresses no view on the merits of Plaintiffs' claims against Prime Minister Modi," said Mr. Joseph Whittington Jr., President of the American Justice Center. "We have a very strong case, and are confident that being the head of state will not be an impediment in prosecuting Modi and holding him accountable for the actions as Chief Minister of Gujarat", added Mr. Whittington.

The Gujarat pogroms of 2002 were one of the worst episodes of violence targeting minorities in India since it achieved independence from Britain, and was marked with horrific crimes against humanity, including the rape of hundreds of women. Many of the victims were subsequently burned alive. Mr. Modi's relentless PR efforts have tried to spin the decision of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to not prosecute him, as a "clean chit." The US government's decision not to use this claim in its suggestion of immunity, is a clear acknowledgement of the fact that the case against Mr. Modi has not even reached the Supreme Court. A case filed by Mrs. Zakia Jafri, widow of slain Parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri, is pending against Mr. Modi in the Gujarat High Court. An amicus curiae appointed by the Supreme Court has recommended Mr. Modi's prosecution.

The American Justice Center (AJC) is a human rights organization dedicated to holding human rights abusers and perpetrators of mass violence accountable. AJC provides legal aid and support for international judicial redress to victims deprived of legitimate and legal means to justice.

American Justice Center
54-14 74th street
Elmhurst, NY 11373
Phone/Fax Number: 1(800)-976-9428

For media queries: Please submit written queries and your contact information to media@americanjusticecenter.org

For general inquires: contact@americanjusticecenter.org

India: The truth about love jihad (Harsh Mander)

livemint - Oct 16 2014

Organizations of the Hindu Right have depicted Muslim men as lustful sexual predators right from the 1920s

Harsh Mander

The truth about love jihad The Muzaffarnagar incident, which was weaved into a mega-narrative of love jihad, has now proved to be a fabrication. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint The dominant narrative surrounding the communal violence which inflamed Muzaffarnagar one year ago is that the stalking of a Jat Hindu girl by a Muslim boy spurred mass anger and retaliatory violence. This weaves into a mega-narrative of love jihad, suggesting that this incident is part of a larger menacing conspiracy of Muslims to target innocent Hindu girls, both to humiliate the Hindu community and swell their own numbers.

It does not matter that this story of sexual harassment of a Hindu girl in Muzaffarnagar is now proved a fabrication. After events which left a young Muslim man Shahnawaz and two Jat men Sachin and Gaurav dead on 27 August 2013 in village Qawal in Muzaffarnagar, the first information report filed by the families of the murdered Jat boys never mentioned stalking, only a motorcycle accident involving Shahnawaz and Sachin. Police investigations confirm that after a heated scuffle when their motorcycles hit each other, Sachin with his cousin Gaurav and a few others went into the Muslim enclave and stabbed Shahnawaz. Local onlookers managed to catch Sachin and Gaurav, even as the other killers escaped. Shahnawaz was rushed to a clinic, and when news came in that he had succumbed to his stab wounds, the crowd killed the two Jat brothers.

But this account was not emotive enough to construct a narrative of communal victimisation to foster hate. The story was spread instead that Shahnawaz was long harassing Sachin’s sister, and to avenge this humiliation, Sachin and Gaurav undertook the honour killing of Shahnawaz. A Muslim mob in turn cruelly lynched the brothers to death. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Sangeet Som uploaded a video depicting the mob lynching of two young men in Sialkot, Pakistan claiming that the men were Sachin and Gaurav, and the murderous mob Muslims of Qawal. Most newspapers and television channels relayed this story uncritically, although Som’s video was proved to be bogus, and Sachin’s sister testified on NDTV that she did not even know Shahnawaz.

Once this story populated popular consciousness, it was propagated that this was not a stray incident but a larger trend—of Muslim boys in large numbers sexually harassing Hindu girls, and indeed that this was part of a larger sinister conspiracy of love jihad. Just ten days after the killing of the three young men in Qawal, a mahapanchayat was called with the theme “Beti Bachao: Save our Daughters”. And these laid the pathways for the crucial third step, of justifying a retaliatory attack on all local Muslims leading to nearly 100 deaths, uncounted rapes, arson, looting and the fleeing of 50,000 people.

In my many subsequent visits to Muzaffarnagar, I find that for the Hindu residents, the actual facts no longer matter. They hold Muslim neighbours of generations vicariously guilty for a crime which never occurred, and a conspiracy of love jihad, which, by any rational evaluation, is a fanciful and mischievous charge. The claim is that Muslim boys are mobilised to romantically entangle innocent Hindu girls to convert them to Islam. This hate narrative spread across Uttar Pradesh (UP), and in the May 2014 general elections helped garner an unprecedented harvest of votes for the BJP.

Historians testify that organizations of the Hindu Right have depicted Muslim men as lustful sexual predators right from the 1920s and the Partition riots, but the term love jihad is newly minted. I first heard it used in Gujarat around 2006, when Bajrang Dal leaders like Babu Bajrangi (now convicted of mass murders in Naroda Patiya in 2002) declared their mission to ‘rescue’ Hindu girls in relationships with Muslim boys. It grew exponentially in popular discourse in coastal Karnataka, where activists of Vishwa Hindu Parishad would drag Hindu girls they encountered with Muslim boys to police stations, and shame them by summoning their parents and publishing their names in newspapers. The church and even a learned judge expressed concern about love jihad in Kerala.

And with its proven success in fostering enduring distrust between religious communities, it became the major staple of popular political discourse in UP. Hopes that the sobering electoral verdict in the recent UP by-polls would douse the ardour of love jihad propaganda are dashed with the ominous announcement by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, student wing of the BJP, that its members will vigilantly prevent love jihad.

It matters little that CID investigations into ‘missing’ young Hindu women in Karnataka found no evidence of any planned conspiracy by any community to romantically entrap girls of another community. The girls had voluntarily eloped variously with Hindu, Muslim and Christian men. It matters little also that when diverse communities live side by side, it is natural for some to fall in love outside the confines imposed by tradition and orthodoxy; and that girls—Hindu or otherwise— exercise agency. It matters little finally that the Constitution and law defend the right of adults to choose both their partners and their religious faith. Indeed, Babasaheb Ambedkar believed that fraternity was as essential to India’s constitutional framework as liberty and equality. Tushar Gandhi recently recalled to me that the Mahatma each year would felicitate young people who married outside their caste and religion. I wonder what the two greatest builders of free India would think of a campaign which regards bonds of love between young people born to diverse faiths as a sinister conspiracy of evil.


Is the BJP taking some distance from Love Jihad which is being pushed by the RSS? or this a double speaking makeover claim for BJP


October 19, 2014

India: Video Recording of Kavita Krishnan on Love Jihad (in Hindi)

Video Recording of Kavita Krishnan speaking on Love Jihad at a public meeting organised by AISA held on 17 October 2014 at the Gandhi Peace Foundation in New Delhi