'Love jihadis' must not be allowed in garba pandals, orders Gujarat VHP
The VHP suggested implementing strict ID and Aadhaar card checks to identify 'love jihadis' and called for a ban on hiring Muslim service providers
The Gujarat government should ensure that 'love jihadis' do not enter garba pandals during the coming Navratri festival and that service providers at the events should not be from the Muslim community, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) demanded on Saturday, 7 October.
Talking to reporters, VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain claimed that Hindu religious processions were being increasingly targeted, and hence the need for caution.
"Garba is an occasion to offer worship to (the) goddess," Jain said. "Some jihadis misuse such occasions. I would like to appeal to all the organisers of garba that pandal-walas (those who construct pandals), catering service people or members of security services should not be Muslim, and they should allow entry to any person only after checking ID card and Aadhaar card."
It was the Gujarat government's responsibility to ensure that "nobody tries to turn the pious event of garba into a love jihad target", he said.
"We will stop them, but there is a possibility of unrest. The government should ensure that law and order is maintained and love jihadis do not get close to the venues," said Jain.
Garba is a Gujarati folk dance performed during the nine-day Navratri festival, which will be celebrated from October 15 to 23 this year.
`Love jihad' is a term used by right-wing organisations to allege a ploy by Muslim men to lure Hindu women into religious conversion through marriage.
Jain also said that the Gujarat government had passed an 'anti-love jihad act' due to the VHP's efforts, but it was not being enforced properly. The Union government has given an assurance to the VHP over its request to enact a central law against love jihad, he claimed.
The Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, penalises forcible or fraudulent religious conversion through marriage. The Gujarat High Court has stayed some provisions of this law.
Jain further alleged that even in Gujarat, the "laboratory of Hindutva", Hindu religious processions were being attacked and stones were pelted on many 'Shaurya Jagran Yatras' of the Bajrang Dal.
He warned Muslim leaders not to 'instigate' their community members.
So far the Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the VHP, has taken out 16 Shaurya Jagran Yatra processions in Gujarat to mark 60 years of its existence, he said. The campaign will conclude in Ahmedabad on Sunday, 8 October, Jain said.