Most of us have read with a touch of impersonal distaste about various forms of ‘Jihad’ – evil concepts filtering in from medieval desserts into the psyche of our society with regular frequency which hitherto was largely ignorant of such anti-humane, anti-woman vile beliefs and acts. The impersonality remains as long as it is happening elsewhere to someone unknown to us. However while we guard our societal frontiers with much zealousness, little do we realize that evil usually creeps in unannounced through back and side doors. So to my utter shock and disgust I walked into a story of how love jihad had sent its feelers to a young underage cousin and her school friends in my hometown making me realize it was not a ‘Hindutva conspiracy’ as many like to tout but has spread its sinister tentacles into a society caught napping.
The modus-operandi is simple and the usual route is through in-your face social media, usually through an innocuous FB friendship request and an ever expanding circle of friendships on social media – quintessential ‘innocent friendships‘ are the facades. Elders flip through the pictures of these young school and college going youngsters of the family and their gregarious friends, ignoring their posts. However, given the increasing number of such incidents, it is high time we brought in measures of discernment and vigilance and started asking some basic questions to know more about these smiling friends encircling our young boys and girls.
Love Jihad is real and is in our own backyards now, slowly unravelling the moral fabric upon which our society is built. The intent is to target and lure vulnerable young females of other communities by pretending to be in love, to convert them into their own religion, with by-product of numerous children who can be abandoned for a whim and claiming other benefits like going back to the girl’s family and demanding monetary support, staking rights to property etc.
The sordid story I stumbled upon goes like this: One late night in June 2016, in a Kannur town, neighbors spot torch lights coming from upstairs of a Hindu house while the family is away. Assuming burglars at work, they surround the house and ring the bell. One of the neighbor climbs up onto the first floor and spots the young school going girl of the house with a bearded boy in the upstairs bedroom. They are forced to come out and questioned by the furious neighbors. Turns out the bearded boy belonging to Muslim community is an engineering student who has traveled all the way from Malappuram district to spend time with the girl; he has done so a few times before. The girl stayed back on the pretext of staying over with friends next door while preparing for tenth exams. Some quick vigilante justice was served to the boy by the furious neighbors before the local police arrived and took the boy for questioning. The boy had a laptop with names of several local Hindu minor girls and their profiles on his FB page. Many questions remained unanswered, clearly a lackadaisical attitude and negligence on guardian’s part, not verifying with neighbors on the stayover plan etc.
However the key point that emerged was the boy had connected with the minor through FB and had also met several of her local friends through her during his visits. He had even taken some of them out for one day picnics to local tourist spots while the parents thought the girls were at school. If this were an ordinary ‘youngsters out to have a good time’ kind of story it would’nt get our napes tingling; however, the twist here is that the boy on police interrogation revealed his links with the dreaded terror outfit ISIS. He admitted he was out on an intentional recce to feel out vulnerable youngsters of the area. In a state where several youngsters have gone missing and are known to have joined the dreaded terror outfit, this should have set alarm bells ringing for the state officials and security machinery. Fortunately, this particular misadventure was caught and curtailed before serious harm could be done, though the name of these girls were shared with his ISS contacts. The school girls too faced some sustained police questioning and were let off after some warnings. The media hardly picked on this story and like so many similar stories, this one too seems to have died quietly after the boy spent a few months in jail.
While there are numerous harrowing tales of girls lured by Muslim youths in the name of ‘Love’ into sordid lives and terrible tragedies, it doesn’t hit the senses till it hits close to home. All the guardians were aware of creeping love jihad in the state and across the nation and yet chose to be blind to the coming and going of this bearded youth in their locality. Each family assumed the other had checked and verified the credentials of this boy and he was known to someone within the neighborhood.
The girls belonged to families that go to temples regularly and light ‘deepams’ morning and evening, as is the typical Hindu ritual in the state. Yet they had no compunction accepting an older Muslim boy interacting regularly with their daughters, indicating a kind of blind acceptance which would be unheard of in earlier times, especially as Muslims and Hindus live shoulder to shoulder in Kerala anyway. The girls at a highly impressionable age spoke highly of being treated like queens by this guy, with much respect and lavish treats, ice-creams and memorabilia being given to them. Some commented enviously about how demure the girls in headgears (hijab) look, indicating the indoctrination is sublime and multi-fold through soft means. Some of the girls mentioned how they were impressed with their Muslim and Christian friends’ ability to quote their religious texts, how they went in large groups dressed in their best for extra classes to learn their books, creating a visible glamorous activity from which the Hindu kids are barred and thus made to feel left out (The Hindu events in local temples are usually open affairs and porous, hence people of any community can participate).
In this case, the intention of the boy was to collect names of as many vulnerable starry-eyed youngsters as possible. Little do they know about what happens once they fall in and comply to demands of an elopement & sexual relation. Most have heard about cases of 16 year old Amrita dating a Muhammad Irshad, later found dead near a railway track at Mukkali, Kerala. Or about 23 year old Anuja who had eloped with a much elder Khaleem, father of 3, and later was found hanging with head tonsured in May 2015; and many more such cases across Bharat. Our girls have no idea about the differences in the social customs and treatment of women in Muslim households in the adjoining compound wall. Muslim men are given a superior decision making status, over-riding good sense of the collective household including elders. They are brought up with the concept of multiple wives which is legally unknown to a Hindu household. Muslim women are usually treated as subservient and many rights and privileges available to a Hindu woman are denied to them.
Though many South Indian movies have touched upon the subject, they did so with a jocular, humorous angle making the entire situation of one guy with multiple wives look comic rather than grim and distasteful. Yet the alarm bells never rang when this guy casually visited once a while and accompanied these girls for local ice-cream outings and treks.
You will find much has been written on this subject, including touching upon technical and legal details of Love Jihad; however the intention of my write-up is to once again ring the bell for parents with youngsters and teenagers who at this point in time are taking the first steps of freedom from schools to colleges, unaccompanied by elders and tasting freedom with all its perils and responsibilities for the first time.
- Let culture be a conviction not a rote-learnt legacy: Its not enough to hold prayers at home and visit temples regularly, children need to be taught the moral themes underlying most of our rituals, fables and legends.
- Teach them to discern: Parents need to hold regular dialogues with children to make them aware of the urban jungle out there and the differences between an open questioning society and a closed regulated society. Build awareness so that they themselves can spot and avoid predators who appear as innocent looking friends but with hidden agendas.
- Regular review of children’s access to social media: Parents should have access to their children’s FB and other social media connections and review them once a while to be aware of the goings-on in their lives.
- Build a relation of trust and friendship with your youngsters: Let them know you are their best friend and above all their best interests are your primary responsibility through words and deeds. So that in times of stress and confusions, they will have the confidence to approach you or other elders in the family and share their issues.
- Instill a sense of Pride: Children and youngsters need to be brought up with the confidence of knowing their own culture which empowers women as equals to men, besides granting several other privileges like the power of education, property, legal rights after marriage etc.
- Get them involved in local community activities like organizing and supporting local temple festivals, training in cultural centers which will bring a deeper understanding of the basis of these cultural beliefs and instill a sense of pride besides of course training them with an additional skill or art.
- Romanticize the need for being in constant contact and to communicate their whereabouts; develop powers of secret codes like a Hollywood spy thriller where certain messages would indicate they are in trouble and need to be picked-up urgently.
- Teach them to counter-question the hidden agenda of anyone selling their own religion or faith with pertinent questions about rights of women, privileges, dogmas etc.
- Hindu parents also need to step out of their closed worlds and socialize more among their society/community. Today, the tendency is complacency and laziness; between work, business, TV and gadgets, there is hardly any time and/or compulsion to go for regular meetings, prayers and society discussions. The mere mention of sending kids to Vedic classes would raise eyebrows of our ‘sickular’ minded folks.
Teach our youngsters to ask ‘What’s love got to do with it?’. Looking back, love a decade ago appears to be simpler, a giving of hearts, usually the boy and girl were young and would end in matrimony or heart-break, whatever their fate; but rarely did the girl end up in trafficking, slavery, deprivation and death. Today love is complicated, it usually comes with hidden agendas and the intent is evil especially towards the young girl and women in question.
(Featured Image courtesy: uttishtabharata.in)
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