By Bhabani Shankar Nayak
Love jihad is an insidious, patriarchal, misogynist and anti-Muslim political project of Hindutva forces seeking to undermine liberal, secular and constitutional democratic society in India. The freedom to love and marry in India is part of the right to life and liberty guaranteed by the Indian constitution. It is further fortified by the Special Marriage Act (1954), which upholds the secular character of individual right to love and marry outside one’s own religion and caste.
The secular, democratic and constitutional rights are antithetical to religious lunatics. It is a threat to their well-established hierarchical authority over people. It is opposed to their unnatural and unscientific approach to life, love, marriage and society. So, the Hindutva forces and their right-wing religious brethren among Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and casteist moral police find themselves in same boat opposing youthful spirit of Indians to love and marry outside their medieval social, religious and cultural order. These forces are the soul of honour killings. India’s latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report has revealed that honour killings are growing rapidly due to these religious and caste lunatics.
The state and governments are supposed to be secular and protect the constitutional rights of Indian citizens. But in reality, the Hindutva-led governments are pandering to the beastly instincts of these right wing religious, cultural, social and political groups. The BJP-ruled states are planning to bring legislation to make love jihad illegal. The BJP and its debauched Hindutva family considers ‘love jihad’ as a trap of Muslim men to marry Hindu women and convert them into Islam, which will change Indian demography.
Such Hindutva bogey of Islamophobic propaganda is not only statistically false but also dangerous for civil liberties of all Indians irrespective of their religious and caste backgrounds. The objective of such ideological propaganda is to malign Muslim communities and ensure caste based hierarchical and hegemonic Hindu social, political and religious order, which is concomitant with other religious right-wing forces. The law against ‘love jihad’ is primarily against freedom of youth. It is fundamentally against progressive social and political transformation towards an egalitarian society in India.
Love jihad derives its ideological inspiration from the writings of MS Golwalkar and his ideas outlined in his book; “We, or our nationhood redefined”. Golwalkar has argued for purity of Hindu race. The Hindutva forces like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Bajrang Dal, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Akhil Bharati Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and BJP are following the footprints of Golwalkar and his reactionary ideals.
The Brahmanical Hindu purity project of Hindutva derives its intellectual strength from works of UN Mukherji, particularly his book “Hindus: A Dying Race” was an inspiration for the Hindu Mahasabha. The campaign against love jihad by Hindutva forces today resembles the assertive mass mobilization of Hindus by the Arya Samaj and other Hindu revivalist organisations during 1920s.
The purification movement led by several Hindu organisations during that period echoes today. Love jihad is an extension of purity of Hindu race based on Brahmanical and patriarchal caste order, where women and men are subservient to its social, cultural, religious and political hegemony.
Hindutva protagonists have reportedly watched porn in state assemblies, have been accused of raping women, maiming and lynching fellow Muslim citizens in the name of cultural and religious nationalism but preach about protecting women from love jihad.
There is a striking similarity between Muslim and Hindu fundamentalists when it comes to the idea of love and marriage. Hindutva forces and their brethren among Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and casteist moral police are the soul of honour killings. Their method of command and control of individual freedom follows similar ideological pattern. The goal of these religious groups is to oppose equality and liberty of individuals in the matters of their everyday lives. The spectre of love hunts the religious and right-wing groups because love is a great equalizer in the society.
The narrow silo of religion and capitalism destroys all material and spiritual foundations of love and life. Both capitalism and feudal religious forces institutionalise love for reproduction. In capitalism, love depends on caste, class and racial compatibilities to preserve their inheritance with the help of marriage for reproduction, accumulation, dominance, and preservation.
The religious forces promote love as an idea of purity and honour confined within women in particular and men in general. These forces tend to locate purity and honour in food habits, dress, body and sexuality. The domestication of love and its institutionalisation is central to both capitalism and feudal religious forces. It destroys human beings organic love and relationship with fellow human beings, nature and animals.
Love jihad need to be a social, cultural, religious and political project of all progressive, liberal and democratic forces in the society. Interfaith, interreligious, inter racial, inter-caste and community marriages are central to defeat the reactionary religious order, which reinforces and sustains all forms of inequalities.
Therefore, struggle for equality is a struggle to defend the idea of love jihad. Love is the only way to overcome different caste, class and gender barriers. Love can only create shared space of peace and collective security. Love can only defeat the capitalist project of commodification of human lives and liberties. Love can only defeat capitalist pandemic of loneliness and help human beings to overcome alienation in a capitalist society.
The collective struggle in defence of love jihad is important to reject Hindutva led Islamophobia and ensure Indian youth’s constitutional right to love and marry whomever they like and divorce whenever they want. Love and relationships are not supposed to be non-living entity or unchangeable commodity in the name of stability, family and society. Love jihad is a potential weapon against all forms of bigotry.
Love can be used as a tool of all emancipatory struggles. Love, live and laugh to launch a continuous and united struggle against all religious and reactionary forces for the sake of peace and survival of human lives. In every pages of history, love always wins and the power of kings and their empires always failed in survival test of time. Love survives within all odds of time.
*Glasgow University, UK