Dear Shri George Kurian,
Last year, I had the privilege of sharing a dais with you at Lucknow. You were the chief guest, while I was one of the resource persons at a conference of principals of Catholic schools in India. We had earlier met at a function organised by the Kerala Christian Association at the Bible House, near Khan Market, in New Delhi. Yes, the same Khan Market, whose crowd Narendra Modi despises for being elite.
What prompted me to write this letter is your statement in which you appealed to Union Home Minister Amit Shah to order the National Investigating Agency (NIA) to probe incidents of love jihad in Kerala. What shocked me was your assertion that Christian girls were “soft targets” and they easily fell into the trap of Islamic terrorism.
I know that you are a BJP leader and you are expected to promote the party’s agenda. You specifically mentioned two cases of Love Jihad in which the targets were a Christian girl in Kerala and a Kerala Christian girl in Delhi.
The girl in Delhi was not dumb, as you imagined her to be. She managed to get a passport, a visa and leave for a Gulf country. If the parents did not know about her move, so was the Home Minister’s police and emigration authorities.
The police in the Gulf were more efficient. She was arrested at the airport. Now, you know whether it was love or Love Jihad. She went of her own volition. As a friend told me, she was clever enough to hide her face from the countless CCTV cameras at the airport!
I wish you had read a report in the Press last year in which the NIA had said that it had found no truth in the allegation that 12 marriages in Kerala which it investigated were the result of Love Jihad. A section of the Press, especially the Malayalam Press, was guiltier than you, as it gave its own fancier accounts of Love Jihad, using your statement as a convenient prop.
Sir, love is as old as creation. It is one of the primordial emotions. If love ends, humanity ends. Jihad is as old as the Quran. The word occurs 41 times in the book. It is one of the most misunderstood religious concepts. Misunderstood by the Muslims themselves. “Struggle for God as is His due” is how I would like to interpret it after reading MJ Akbar’s book on Jihad.
Love Jihad is a new construct, totally Indian. It has been coined with a purpose, which is to wage a surreptitious Jihad against the Muslims. Martin Luther King Jr had once said that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
However, fascist forces know that hate is a far more powerful emotion than love and it can be used to achieve their ends. In Germany, they saw in the Jews a hateful race. All the problems of the nation were attributed to them and their alleged usurious ways. Finally, the hate led to the Final Solution in the gas chambers at Auschwitz and Dachau.
In India, the Sangh Parivar has used fears and rumours to strengthen hatred. In the early 20th century, they found in the “higher growth rate” of Muslims a threat to the demographic supremacy of the Hindus. One UN Mukherji published a “seminal” book: Hindus: A Dying Race in 1909. It was a cocktail of concocted statistics, rumours as facts and fancy tales as scientific projections.
It created a sensation. Every nationalist from N.C. Chatterjee, father of former Lok Sabha Speaker, Somnath Chatterjee, to Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, the “founding father” of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the forerunner of the BJP, used it to the hilt to whip up passions. It should be said to the eternal credit of Maharishi Aurobindo, one of the greatest minds India has produced, that he dismissed the claim as nothing but fanciful.
Mukherji’s book claimed that in a hundred years Muslims would overtake Hindus as the single largest community in India. In 2009, the 100th year of the publication of the book, the Muslim population stood at 13 per cent. Even if the Muslim population of Pakistan and Bangladesh is included, the Hindus would still remain the preponderant community in the subcontinent.
I tried to buy a copy of the book but it is not available. Sixty years have passed since the death of the author. Anybody can publish the book without violating the Copyright Act. The Sangh Parivar would be embarrassed to get involved in the republication of the book, as it would show some of their great heroes, who laid great store by the book, as a bunch of dimwits.
On his first official visit to the land of the rising sun, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted a copy of the Bhagwat Gita and a book on Swami Vivekananda, edited by Swami Medhasananda, to his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, who, too, believes in reconstructing the past to erase the memories of what the Japanese soldiers did to the “comfort women” of South Korea.
I do not know how and why Swami Vivekananda became an icon of the Sangh Parivar. He passed away in 1902, long before the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was formed in 1925. He had praised the Muslims for their strong faith in God, courage and care for fellow Muslims. He had also made some uncharitable remarks against the Hindus.
Such references have been excised from the books on Swamiji published by the Parivar and its associates. I also find it curious that the Parivar considers Sardar Patel as yet another icon. Patel was “born” a Congressman and died a Congressman. He also had the distinction of banning the RSS. Yet, Modi built a statue of Patel, which is taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York, erected with the money collected from the public by the American publisher Joseph Pulitzer.
The RSS leaders, most of whom are bachelors, ask the Hindus to produce more children telling them that Krishna was the eighth child of His parents and Rabindranath Tagore the ninth child of his parents. But they know that such appeals do not have any takers. Actually, they should set an example by marrying and producing children.
This is because demographic decline is not a phenomenon peculiar to the Hindus or Christians. Bangladesh has achieved better results than India in family planning. Recently I read a book, How Civilisations Die: And Why Islam is Dying Too by David Goldman. Those who have read it would know why the Government of Iran has been exhorting the Iranians to produce more babies.
Despite the incentives, the Iranian women marry late and produce not more than one child each. Goldman produces statistical evidence to suggest that the population of Muslims will diminish faster than those of evangelical Christians in America. The Sangh Parivar leaders would be happy to read this book to know that their description of Muslim women as factories producing babies was thoroughly misplaced.
It is a pet theme of the Parivar that people from Bangladesh have been dying to reach Assam and settle down there. The quality of life in terms of literacy, mother’s mortality rate, infant mortality rate and public health is decidedly much better in Bangladesh than in Assam. Yes, the Bangladeshi wants to migrate to better places like the Indian “bhadralog” who queue up for visa at the American and European embassies in India!
The Parivar had been claiming that Muslims had become a majority in several districts of Assam. The recently published register of citizens shows that there are only 19 lakh aliens in Assam, representing a single-digit percentage of the state population. And they include Hindus and even foreigners like Nepalis.
Since stories about Muslims multiplying faster than Hindus no longer appeal to the common man, the Parivar has thought of spreading the canard about Love Jihad. It implies that the Muslims deliberately encourage their young men to entice Hindu and Christian girls to marry and convert.
The Quran allows Muslim men to marry only Muslim women. They can marry Christians and Jews because they are from book-based faiths. Theoretically, Muslim men cannot marry Hindus. Of course, they can marry converted Hindu women. There had been some incidents in which Muslim men had married Hindu women, evoking violence. But there is not a single case in which a Muslim man forcibly married a Hindu or a Christian woman, at least in independent India.
Most people, including Muslims, are scared of Jihad. They know how in the name of Jihad, the Islamic State had been plundering and killing the Shiites, Turkmen, Yazidis, Kurds, Shabaks and the Christians. Former Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh once asked, “what is Love Jihad?”, but he knew that the foot soldiers of the Parivar had been indoctrinating the people about the dangers of Love Jihad.
I had read the present UP Chief Minister saying that for every Hindu girl enticed by the Muslims, 100 Muslim girls should be enticed by the Hindus. At that time, I found BJP MP Hema Malini’s statement denouncing Love Jihad and promising to initiate a debate in Parliament as the funniest.
She wanted to marry a married man, actor Dharmendra, who had children from his first wife, one of whom is now an MP from Punjab. So, both of them converted to Islam and went in for a “nikah”. Both Dharmendra and Hema Malini no longer use the Muslim names they acquired. I am not in a position to judge them because “everything is fair in war and love”. Nor do I believe that it was at the prompting of any jihadist that they converted to Islam.
It was love, pure or impure, and the need to escape the charge of bigamy that Dharmendra and Hema Malini thought of this stratagem. Nobody would accuse BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain of Love Jihad when he married a Hindu girl. The same is true about another BJP leader and Union minister for minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. The son-in-law of Subramaniam Swamy is also a Muslim.
I would not say that former BJP spokesman and minister MJ Akbar indulged in Love Jihad when he married a Syrian Christian from Kottayam. The BJP’s tallest leader in Bihar Sushil Modi also cannot be accused of waging a Jihad when he married a Malayali Christian girl.
These leaders are all related to the Sangh Parivar. Inter-religious and inter caste marriages have been happening for centuries, if not millennia. It is not part of any strategy.
There are innumerable Hindus who have married Muslims. Some of them are actor Sunil Dutt who married Nargis, Urdu author Krishan Chander who married Salma Siddique, actor Hrithik Roshan who married Suzanne Khan, daughter of actor Sanjay Khan, Cricketer Ajit Agarkar, a Maharashtrian Brahmin, who married Fatima Ghadially and Congress leader Sachin Pilot who married Sarah Abdullah, daughter of Farooq Abdullah, who is now under house arrest in Kashmir, a Union Territory.
It is said that love is blind. The Parivar’s campaign against Love Jihad is to demonise the Muslims and push them into a corner. I wonder whether Hindu and Christian girls are so senseless that they fall to the so-called “Love Jihadists”.
Why can’t the Parivar ask its cadres to bring up their daughters in such a way that they do not fall to any temptations and marry only those whom the parents choose?
I remember reading the late Paramacharya of Kanchi who advocated child marriages. His reason: a girl should be married before she attained puberty. So when she felt the first urge for sex, it should be fulfilled by her husband. She would consider it as the “ultimate bliss” and would thereafter consider him as no less than a god on earth.
The campaign against Love Jihad is part of a grand strategy to ostracise the Muslims. The Parivar wants to pit Hindus and Christians against Muslims.
Sir, you have a duty to the community you represent. There have been umpteen cases of harassment of Christians and Muslims. Some of them have been lynched to death in the name of the cow, as in Jharkhand. This week, a retired pastor and his family were mercilessly beaten up. I wish you had taken up such cases.
Before I conclude, I would request you to read The Afghan, a 2006 thriller novel by Frederick Forsyth. You know why? The Islamic terrorist, who is the chief protagonist, in the book had his training in terrorism in Kerala and he sets out to terrorise the world. When I read your statement, I began to ask myself, which one was more fanciful, your account of Love Jihad or Forsyth’s imaginary tale.
(The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)(Published on 30th September 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 40)