No ‘love jihad’ in Kerala, DGP says again in High Court

By Staff Correspondent,

Kochi: The Kerala state DGP Jacob Punnoose informed the High Court again that there was no evidence for the functioning of an organisation named ‘Love Jihad’ in the state. The matter was repeated in the additional report submitted in the High Court by the DGP as per the Court’s direction. The Court had directed the DGP to give additional explanation, if any, when considering the report submitted earlier on October 22.

The DGP also handed over the reports of the District Police officers in sealed cover to the High Court. However, the Director of the Intelligence Bureau of the central government asked for two weeks’ time to submit its report. Js KT Shankaran postponed the case to be considered again on December 1.

The DGP informed the Court that the investigation reports of district police officers said that there was no functioning of any organisation or movement called the ‘Love Jihad’ in Kerala. However, three reports stated that there were unauthorized reports about certain organisations trying for forceful conversion feigning love. The DGP reportedly stated in the Court that there was no evidence for these unauthorised reports. Detailed investigation would be conducted into the matter.

In another development Js KT Shankaran stated that the term ‘love jihad’ was not an invention of the High Court. The HC stated this while considering the petition filed by the secretary of the Association for Human Rights demanding a withdrawal of the terms ‘love jihad’ and ‘romeo jihad’ used by the Court. The High Court Judge made it clear that the Court had asked only whether such an organisation or movement was functioning in the state.

The ‘love jihad’ controversy came up when the High Court asked the state DGP to investigate and submit report on whether there was an organisation functioning in the state called ‘Love Jihad’ or ‘Romeo Jihad’ aiming at forceful religious conversions through feigned love. The court ordered the investigation on August 21 while considering the bail application of two Muslim young men, who were accused to have forcefully converted two non-Muslim girls to Islam by feigning love and then marrying them. The girls were then asked by the Court to go with their parents even though they reportedly said that they had accepted Islam on their own free will and that since they were Muslims it would be difficult for them to live with their parents during Ramadan. Considering this, the court asked the parents to provide all help for the girls to follow their religion and its practices. But when the case was considered on August 26 and later on September 8, both the girls informed the court that they wanted to go with their parents.

The DGP submitted his report on October 22 which stated that there was no evidence for any organisation called ‘love jihad’ functioning in Kerala so far. But he also added that there were reasons to suspect the existence of organised efforts to convert non-Muslim girls to Islam after Muslim boys feigned love with them. The Court then asked him to submit an additional explanation as the statements in the report were in cordiality with each other. The DGP submitted his additional explanation report yesterday in which he has repeated his earlier statement that there was no such organisation functioning in the state.

Another incident that happened related to the issue is the case of a Muslim boy from Kannur in Kerala and a Hindu-converted-to-Islam girl from Chamrajnagar near Mysore in Karnataka. The girl and boy fell in love when the girl’s family was visiting Kerala. The girl, who was an engineering graduate, ran away from her house in Karnataka and married the boy after converting to Islam. The couple began to live together. People from Karnataka (including the girl’s father) reportedly came to Kerala and tried to win the girl back but she was adamant on being with her husband. Then the girl’s father filed a habeas corpus in the Karnataka High Court and the couple went to the court. There also the court decided to send the 23-year old girl with her parents, ordering the police to conduct an investigation into the alleged functioning of an organisation called ‘Love Jihad’ and whether the boy had any relations with it.

The media in both states took up the issue and began to publish news stories on the alleged ‘Love Jihad’, its functioning, funding etc. The media quoted the Central Intelligence Bureau and the Special Branch for the exclusive reports they published. The boys began to be presented as terrorists. There were detailed reports about the ‘love jihad’ – its activities, functioning, how it trapped non-Muslim girls, etc.

The leading mainstream newspapers in Kerala came up with detailed reports on the ‘love jihad’ and its activities. One of the reports says that the Intelligence Bureau had warned of a friendship group called ‘Smart Friends’ (SF) which was functioning for the ‘Love Jihad’ in the campuses in Kerala. The report also informs the readers of the activities of the organisation. The mission of the ‘love jihadis’ was to convert non-Muslim girls to Islam by feigning love. The ‘love jihadis’ would get Rs 200 as daily allowance in addition to phone, bike and luxurious dress materials. They were directed to trap the girl in love within two weeks of familiarising. If that was not done, they were to leave the girl and go for some other girls. Once they were in love, the boys should convert and marry them in six months. As a result of this, the report says, the Special Branch has found that about 500 girls have been converted by the ‘Romeo Jihadis’ in the last year.

The report doesn’t end by merely stating the mission and rewards. It has a detailed knowledge of the organisation, it seems. The report says – “The ‘Smart Friends’ has been formed as a friendship group in several campuses in the state as well as fields like the IT where women work in large numbers. The message ‘Love at least one girl, Ruin at least one’s life’ was widely propagated as SMS connected to this organisation. The cadres who work with the aim to lure and convert girls are known by the code name of ‘Romeo Jihads’. It is known that certain women’s organisations too are helping the activities of the Romeos to trap non-Muslim women in love. The code name of these women cadres who help the Romeos is ‘love bomb’.”

Such venomous reports were published in the newspapers and magazines in Kerala and Karnataka. In Kerala, even some of the Christian churches joined the war in the side of the Sangh Parivar against Muslims. A notice was published in the name of a priest that warned the Christian girls of the trap of ‘love jihadis’. In Karnataka, the missing of several women from the Mysore area added to the anti-love jihad campaign. However, the spread of the venom of communalism came down as the serial killer Mohan Kumar was arrested in Karnataka. The murders he is supposed to have committed had been attributed to the ‘Love Jihad’. In Kerala, things came to a slow pace by the report of the DGP.

The campaign against ‘love jihad’ in the beginning itself had acquired an anti-woman nature but none of the feminists or human rights activists seemed interested in the matter, in protecting the attacked womanhood. They did not find any violation of human rights when the girls above 18 years of age were forced by the Court to go with their parents. Only the People’s Union for Civil Liberties dared question the Court order which they said were against the rights of a grown up major. The Karnataka PUCL decided to approach the Supreme Court against the decision of the state High Court. However, the human rights activists and cultural leaders who kept silent when the campaign was at its peak have now come with statements against giving away Kerala to communalists. A joint statement was signed by cultural leaders including Js VR Krishna Iyer against the menace coming to swallow Kerala up.

Even though the fierce campaign has come down and the cultural leaders have risen up to air their voice against communalising Kerala, the far-reaching social implications of the attempts for communal divide are yet to be known.