‘Love Jihad Band Karo’: Tribal Group In Chhattisgarh Takes Out Protest March After Minor Girl Elopes With Muslim Man
The protest came after a Muslim man named Danish Qureshi eloped with a minor girl from the Uraon tribe, which is a Scheduled Tribe.
According to the in-charge of Sanna police station, the girl was recovered on 15 July.
A video of residents of a tribal-dominated village in Jashpur district has emerged where residents are seen taking out a rally chanting the slogans of “Love Jihad band karo” (stop love Jihad) and “Adivasi Ekta Zindabad” (long live Adivasi unity).
Jashpur is near the Chhattisgarh-Jharkhand border and is around 400 kilometres from Chhattisgarh capital city Raipur.
The protest came after a Muslim man named Danish Qureshi eloped with a girl from the Uraon tribe, which is a Scheduled Tribe. The girl is said to be a minor.
The girl has been recovered. The police have not yet revealed to the media if the accused would be booked under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
What the FIR says
A first information report (number 76/2022) was registered at the Sanna police station, which falls in Jashpur district of Chhattisgarh, on 11 July. This is what the complainant, Sudha Bhagat, who is mother of the minor victim, says, as recorded in the FIR:
On 9 July around 7 in the evening, her daughter, who is 17 years and 11 months old, went somewhere with Danish Qureshi, a resident of Sanna village. Danish lured her into eloping with him.
The girl had just finished her Class 12 examinations. She was preparing food for the evening when she went out to get something. However, she did not return home. When Sudha went out to look for her, she found no one in the courtyard.
The family asked neighbours but could get no information about her location. Then they reached Danish’s house to inquire about her. His father Sabir said, “They came home in the evening but are not at home now.” His statements were contradictory and thus, Sudha and her family members entered his house forcefully on 11 July. However, they found no one there.
Then they reached the police station and registered a complaint against Danish Qureshi for kidnapping their daughter.
The police booked Qureshi under IPC section 363 (kidnapping).
What the Family told Swarajya
Swarajya called the victim’s father Jai Man Bhagat on 15 July. He said that the girl had been recovered and right now, he was at the police station with her. He called Swarajya later in the evening and said that the girl had told the police she wanted to live with Qureshi.
Asked where the girl was, the father said that the police had taken their daughter to the district hospital for some medical tests in the day and now, she was sleeping as she was tired.
Asked if they knew about Danish, he said that he was a schoolmate of his daughter.
Jai Man said he works in the state agriculture department as a labourer. He has two children; the other is a boy, who is younger than the girl.
He said, “We will not let the boy take our daughter. We have raised her and educated her. If she now wants to go with a Muslim, that will not work with us.”
He said that though many from his community were not supporting him in his fight and had ostracised him, he would get his daughter back at any cost.
Swarajya called up the father the next day to ask if he can make his daughter speak on the phone, he politely declined, saying she was being sent to a relative.
About Jashpur and Uraon tribe
A local reporter who shared the video of the “love jihad” on social media, arranged a call for Swarajya with a local advocate named Ram Prakash Pandey. The latter said that Jashpur is a secluded area with no train connectivity.
“Only buses run here,” he said. “ It is a forest area with 65 per cent tribal population. The majority of the tribal population is from Uraon tribe. The girl belongs to this tribe.”
This tribe worships the Sun as God and considers “Bishnu” as their deity, he said.
Besides Uraon, the tribal population comprises Gond, Korwa, Kanwar, Khairwar, Munda, Bhuihar, Bakiya and Sawra castes. Apart from this, the area is home to people from “upper-caste” Hindus and Muslims. Muslims are primarily traders, he said.
He said that there is a culture of weekly markets in Jashpur, where “80 per cent” of traders are Muslims.
Pandey said that there have been several cases where Muslims have targeted Adivasi girls for relationships and eventual conversion to Islam.
“There is a peculiar pattern. They lure Adivasi girls and then make physical relationships with them. Then they pitch conversion for marriage. Over the past few years, this is a new conversion tactic that has come to light,” he said.
Pandey further said that people from the Uraon and other tribes are being converted on a large scale to Christianity by missionaries.
It is pertinent to mention here that as per the Joshuaproject website, about 26 per cent of the Uraon tribal population in India is now Christian.
About 47 per cent of the population is still Hindu, the website says, estimating the total population of Uraon to be about 52 lakhs, concentrated mainly in Bihar and adjoining areas of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Tripura, Maharashtra and Assam.
About the protests
On the day of the FIR, that is on 11 July, Adivasis took out a street protest. They also observed a Bandh (closure) of the market.
Jai Man Bhagat said that a local Hindu activist from his caste, Ganesh Ram Bhagat, came to meet him at home.
What the police say
Swarajya spoke briefly with the in-charge of Sanna police station. He said that the girl was recovered on 15 July. However, he did not reveal the area from where they had recovered her. The officer said that he was too busy recording statements and completing other formalities to talk to the media.
Asked if any more IPC sections have been added to the case after the recovery, the officer said that the girl had willingly gone with the boy. He disconnected the call.
On the police’s website, the status of the case is marked as 'sensitive'.
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