(Professor of Tribal Studies, Formerly Dean, School of Cultural Studies; Former Director Arunachal Institute of Tribal Studies; Former Director, Center for Distance Education)
Of youth problems like unemployment, drug addiction, falling in violence and insurgency, love jihad has emerged as a serious concern. It has diverse implications such as religious, political, social and gender dynamics. Its religious implication suggests that the phenomenon is allegedly an organised Islamic conspiracy by Muslim men in targeting non- Muslim, particularly Hindu women in India and thereby converting them to Islam. The incident is believed to be, as is reported by Sunny Hundal in the Guardian on 3rd July 2012, a conspiracy of the Muslims in the 1990s to convert Sikh girls into Islam on the background of historic conflicts between the Sikh and the Muslim. It all began at least from 1990s when, as Sunny Hundal writes, ‘an anonymous leaflet (suspected to be by Hizbu ut-Tahrir followers) urged Muslim men to seduce Sikh girls and convert them to Islam’. The practice is rampant in Kerala, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and in other few places targeting Hindu girls.
One of the methods of seducing girls is to feign love and promise marriage. On occasions, it is found that the Muslim man takes Hindu name. In Assam, several cases have been reported where a Muslim man in Hindu name feigns love or promises job and elopes with the girl. A few girls have been rescued also. In our tradition, marriage is not an event between two persons; it is a bonding between two families and their relatives. The involvement of two families helps to resolve any future marital discord. Why do girls prefer to run away or marry a few-day known individuals without knowing his background or about his society and family details? Why do girls not share their choice to their parents? Why do they break away from traditional marriage practices?
Assuming that the man has come with a purpose of converting a girl, and has many tricks to lure her, the question arises why does the girl become easily gullible? Why does she believe in a man unknown to her till a few days or months ago? Why does she feel family, family values, society, etc. something unknown while with the man? Has something gone wrong with parents or family? It is not the girl who takes solace in the company or words of others. We also see boys falling victim to drugs. Drug addiction is as harmful as a girl falling victim to love jihad.
Without reference to political or religious explanation let us try to understand in a secular way. Political or religious causes are external dynamics. Is there any drawback in our society or with parents that leads to a girl to be a victim of love jihad and a boy to become a drug addict? We can explain it invoking crisis theory. A person becomes more vulnerable at the time of crisis and it is easy to trap him/her by vested interests.
The crisis has several manifestations. In a crisis like neglect, torture, discrimination, frustration, subjugation, deprivation one becomes vulnerable to any promise of redemption. This crisis theory is useful to understand why Hindu girls in India fall victim to love jihad. The crisis is a push factor, and conspiracy to lure the girl is a pull factor. The push factor arises where a girl feels subordinated, insecure and stands alienated. Incidents of rape and murder in a few states are being reported. The girl’s friendship across the caste is condemned. Often it leads to violence between two families and castes in some states. Obviously, the girl is confined to a restricted space in society. A girl falling victim to love jihad suggests that she does not have strong bonding to the values held by family and community. She may be having a desire, which she thinks, given the conditions, cannot be fulfilled. A suppressed desire is the foundation of a frustrated life. Moreover, she may not have liberty like bothers to express her desire or aspirations. It gets outlet when someone, with whom she may meet at one or another plea or secretly gives wing to her desire.
Somewhere we are to blame. How much time do we devote to our children so that they develop a sense of belonging to our values? How much time do we spend with them? What values do we inculcate in them? How many times do we try to understand them and their problems, wishes and aspiration and try to address them? Have we given them the liberty to become free and frank with us and share their wale and woes? By saying so I do not mean to demean the parents and families who are above the allegations I have outlined.
It is not rare to find children growing up with the values of housemaids, TV and mobile culture, or cultural alienation in residential schools. The result is a value crisis and confusion and falling victim to love jihad or drug addiction, for in them the sense of alienation and feeling of isolation guide their action. We are only responsible for the crisis in children. It is time to rethink our role and responsibility as parents and realise that our children need our presence, not presents. The family, the community should be so organised that children develop a strong sense of belonging to the values we adhere to before leaving home. They will build up their future on the foundation of these values. Internal strength built up with values, love and care will certainly minimise or negate the external pull of love jihad. Being blind to our shortcomings and placing blame on others would magnify the problem than solving it. Out attitude towards girls and parental roles should change in order that they do not fall victim to what we do not want.