‘Calculated Ensnaring’ Of Women Gains Momentum In Kerala: Here’s Why It Is Happening

by M R Subramani - Jul 28, 2020 07:55 PM +05:30 IST
‘Calculated Ensnaring’ Of Women Gains Momentum In Kerala: Here’s Why It Is HappeningRepresentative image (Mujeeb Faruqui/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
  • Spidermanning — a masculine art of ensnaring a target into one’s web — is happening to many women in Kerala, and religion is not divorced from the gameplan. Here’s why it is increasing in the southern state.

Over 70 notices under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 have been issued by various sub-registrar offices in Kerala raising suspicion that “love jihad” has gathered momentum in the southern State.

All these notices have been issued in the last few months, which makes people suspect if a concerted campaign is on with elements having links with terrorist organisations targeting young girls.

In “love jihad” — a controversial issue in Kerala with its United Democratic Front (UDF) and Left Democratic Fronts (LDF) denying its existence — Muslim men target non-Muslim women for conversion by Islam feigning to love them.

A decision by the Pinarayi Vijayan government to not publish the address of the man and women getting married under the Special Marriage Act is further acting as a catalyst for this.

The State government took the decision after social activists from Hindu and Christian communities took note of the women’s address from the websites and saved at least 1,000 girls.

“A Muslim activist complained to the Chief Minister on how we saved over 1,000 girls from love jihad. Since then, the address of both the man and woman is not being published making it easier for these things,” said Kevin Peter, spokesperson for Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA).

A retired IPS official told Swarajya on the condition of anonymity that 100 to 180 such marriages took place during the lockdown. "The Kerala government has stopped giving these details like covering up the birth rate," he said.

In 2012, former Kerala director-general of police (DGP) T P Senkumar reported to the Kerala High Court that “love jihad” existed. The then Oommen Chandy’s Congress-led UDF rejected the report.

In 2009, the then DGP, Jacob Punnoose, told the Kerala High Court that religious conversions of Hindu girls married to Muslim men were happening, but he fell short of terming it love jihad.

The Special Marriage Act, 1954, lays down procedures for solemnization and registration of marriages in which either the husband or wife or both are not Hindus, Buddhists, Jains or Sikhs.

The Act makes it mandatory for the authority registering the marriage to issue a public notice inviting objections if any within 90 days of the notice being published.

All the 70-odd notices have one common feature: the bridegroom is Muslim. The brides, on the other hand, are either Hindus or Christians.

According to CASA’s Peter, at least 100 such marriages have taken place during the nation-wide lockdown imposed to control the novel Coronavirus pandemic with all the men being Muslims, since 25 March.

Barring a stray case of a 40-year-old Hindu widow marrying a 26-year-old Muslim, most of the women who are marrying Muslims are below 30 years of age.

In some cases, 18-year-old girls are marrying Muslim men aged above 21 years of age and in some, the girls are 21 years of age.

On social media, a Twitterati came out with a thread to report that all the women were teenaged or in their early twenties. This indicated that these women had been “profiled, marked, targeted and then entrapped”.

The details of the women and men are far from comforting. In one case, an 18-year-old marries a driver, in another case, a Christian teenager of the same age has married a 26-year-old coolie.

Some other cases are:

  • A sales executive marries an air hostess

  • A plumber marries a Christian student aged 18,

  • A construction worker marries another 18-year-old girl.

  • In another case, a 21-year-old woman is already wearing a burqa after marrying a 34-year-old Muslim.

“How are these possible? How did the parents (give) consent? Not every girl goes against her parent’s wishes. What is prompting these girls to opt for such marriages? Is coercion involved?” the Twitterati wondered.

“The LDF government is allowing such marriages eyeing Muslim votes. It has posted staff who are loyal to the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) in such registrar offices. Even during bandh recently, a registrar office was kept open and marriage was registered,” said Peter.

Kerala will face Assembly elections in May next year. It is the major reason why more such marriages are taking place.

“CPM and LDF hope to garner Muslim votes by encouraging these activities,” said the CASA spokesman.

In Kanjirapally, Kottayam district, a girl was abducted from her home and married to a Muslim with the help of CPM supporters, says the CASA spokesman.

Social activists wonder why all such marriages are only between Muslim men and Hindu or Christian women?

“The reverse seldom happens and if it happens, the bridegroom will be killed,” said a political observer in Thiruvananthapuram, adding that quite a few such cases have happened in the State.

These elements have also been enthused by the marriage of Vijayan’s daughter to a Muslim as also CPM Member of Parliament P Karunakaran daughter’s marriage to a Muslim.

“Many Muslim youths have joined CPM are using the party as a platform to marry Hindu or Christian girls. Thus, their conversion activities get hidden,” says the observer, who did not wish to be identified.

But those tracking the “love jihad” activities say that families of Communists, who are atheists, are targeted. The other targets are girls from the Ezhava community, who are good looking.

Interestingly, the CPM derives its strength in Kerala from the Ezhava community.

Observers and activists allege that money for such activities is flowing into Kerala from Gulf countries. There was a setback to such funding earlier after the Centre cracked down on non-government organisations (NGOs) receiving funds from abroad.

But now, the conversion activities have gained momentum what with money coming through hawala operations. In this regard, observers suspect that money got from the current Kerala gold smuggling case could have gone for such “love jihad” activities.

According to observers and political analysts, attempts are being made to convert Kerala into another Kashmir through such activities. This is one reason why more number of people have joined the Islamic State Of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from Kerala.

Last week, a United Nations report on terrorism warned that there are significant numbers of ISIS terrorists in Kerala and Karnataka. The report said the al-Qaida in the Indian subcontinent ISIS terror group has between 150 and 200 militants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar and it plans attacks in the region.

In 2016, over 20 persons left Kerala to join ISIS in Afghanistan. Some of the women in the group were converted from Hinduism or Christianity to Islam after marrying a Muslim.

Almost all those who left Kerala to join ISIS were from well-to-do families and well educated too.

Observers say that efforts to Islamise Kerala have gathered momentum as out of every 100 children born in a day now, 40 are Muslims.

George Kurian, former Minorities Commission vice-chairman, said that many Christian priests too were complaining about their community being targeted for “love jihad”.

In September last year, Kurian wrote a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah seeking a probe by the National Investigation Agency.

Social activists say they are facing a tough task in tackling “love jihad” activities since the Congress too silently supports this.

“The Muslim community wields enormous clout, vote-wise and money-wise. Muslims make up nearly 26 per cent of the population. For CPM and Congress, they are safe bets since they tend to vote en-masse as directed by their leaders,” says the observer.

Mainstream media in Kerala has downplayed “love jihad” since influential Muslims give them advertisements that helps them tide over any financial problem.

Social activists also feel that the term “love jihad” has not been included in any Indian legislation. This prevents police or authorities from taking action against them.

This was also the reason why Shah told Parliament in February this year that “no such case of love jihad has been reported” by any central agency.

All the affected communities agree that “love jihad” is a serious issue but are clueless on fighting it since major political parties in Kerala are not serious about the issue.

M.R. Subramani is Executive Editor, Swarajya. He tweets @mrsubramani

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