Let's talk about ‘Love Jihad’ - is it threatening India?

The issue has the potential of provoking longstanding communal tensions

Nabila Pathan
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Accusations are resurfacing among India’s right-wing that Muslim youths are seducing Hindu women in order to convert them to Islam, in what is being called a “love jihad.”

The issue has the potential of provoking longstanding communal tensions.


The term “love jihad” dates back to 2009, when rumors began emerging from southern India.

“It became clear that many of the women in question had converted to Islam voluntarily, but Hindu politicians had used the stories to incite fear,” New York-based news site Vocativ reported.

When the claims first cropped up in the southern Indian states of Kerala and Karantaka, an investigation by local law enforcement cleared the accused Muslims of forced conversions.

Accusations of a “love jihad” have emerged recently in the state of Uttar Pradesh, ahead of crucial by-elections next week.
Panchjanya and Organizer, two magazines funded by the Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, published cover stories on the issue.

They discussed the alleged abduction of a Hindu girl in Meerut, and of a woman from Jharkhand who accused her husband of converting her by force.

Many respected observers say this is part of an organized campaign to gain political capital by spreading divisive rumors.

“This is a hate tool used by rabid Hindu right-wingers to polarize the two communities and spread falsehood and hatred, especially in states where [Hindu nationalists] are in power,” said Vrinda Grover, a lawyer who has researched this subject closely.

Uma Bharti, India’s water resources minister and a veteran leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, said: “Elders of the two communities must sit together and find a solution to the issue... There is a need to ensure that the future of boys and girls of either community is not jeopardized in any way.”

However, Shaheed Siddiqui, a former MP and senior Muslim community leader in Uttar Pradesh, said Bharti was “trying to put fuel on the fire.”

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