BJP-ruled states dragging India back with ‘love jihad’ laws for racial purity

While serious governance and policing take a back seat, states are busy dictating women where to go, what to wear, what to eat and who to love

BJP-ruled states dragging India back with ‘love jihad’ laws for racial purity

Ranjona Banerji

Astronomers often tell you that when you look out into space, you look back in time. That’s because of the time photons take to travel and other such physics-y things. However, there is no cute, if hard to wrap-your-head around, explanation for what’s happening in India now.

We’re going back in time and the explanation is sociological. We are regressing, just when it looks like we could be moving forward. As the old cliché goes, two steps forward but many more back.

The new laws in BJP-ruled states to stop inter-faith marriages take us right back to ancient bans on exogamy and also emphasize our fear of the other. Regardless of the genome evidence of our origins, tradition sticks to endogamy, within caste, religion, region as far as India goes. In today’s RSS-ruled India, these new laws on interfaith marriages are akin to ‘miscegenation’ (interbreeding of people belonging to different races) laws in other parts of the world, to maintain “racial purity” by banning mixed marriages. We have been carefully groomed towards these laws with the bigotry and violence of the “love jihad” movement.

We knew it was happening, but we allowed it to build up anyway. There is agreement amongst India’s most despicably narrow-minded that there is a giant conspiracy by Muslim men to ensnare Hindu women into marriage and thereby reduce India’s Hindu population and increase India’s Muslim numbers. There’s no point thinking of this as absurd anymore. The underlying notion behind love jihad is now law in some states.

And sadly, too many in the police forces seem to have little taste for doing any real work. Unconstitutional laws like these are easy plays and they have been quick to interrupt weddings and take bridegrooms into custody.

This is in spite of several courts striking down such ideas. This is from an Allahabad High Court judgment this November, on a contested inter-faith marriage:

“To disregard the choice of a person who is an adult would not only be antithetic to freedom of choice of a grown-up individual, but would also be a threat to concept of unity in diversity. An individual on attaining majority is statutorily conferred with the right to choose a partner, which if denied would not only affect his/her human right, but also his/her right to life and personal liberty, guaranteed under Article 21 of Constitution…”

“We do not see Priyanka Kharwar and Salamat as Hindu and Muslim, rather as two grown-up individuals who out of their own free will and choice are living together peacefully and happily over a year. The courts and constitutional courts in particular are enjoined to uphold life and liberty of an individual guaranteed under Article 21 of Constitution.”

But politics of India at the current moment has no respect for India’s Constitution or indeed India’s future. The movement is to take us back to some fictitious age of “Hindu” supremacy, to correct the “wrongs” of years of rule by Muslim kings, to gloss over British colonial rule since the RSS did not take issue with that, but at the same time show all religious minorities, starting with Muslims, their rightful place of subjugation.

The more Indians vote for the BJP, the more they cement this vicious and violent thought process. The more India’s opposition parties do not tackle this head on or in fact covertly even agree with some of these ideas, the further back in time they take us.

And the massive boulder is gaining momentum. You see it across India. Because there is undoubtedly some ingrained prejudice in all of us. After all, anti-conversion laws, prohibitions on cow slaughter, acquiescence to majoritarian customs have been allowed by various political configurations across India, not just the RSS. The word “appeasement” has been used as an excuse to push Hindu supremacist ideas.

Make no mistake though. There is no benefit for anyone in this RSS movement except for themselves and their chosen few. Not Dalits, not lower caste Hindus, not Adivasis, not Muslims, not Christians, not Jains, not Sikhs, not Buddhists, not Parsis, not Jews and anyone else. And there is one category across all these that will suffer the most: women.

Because underpinning many of these laws and proscriptions is extreme misogyny. The very foundation of tradition everywhere is patriarchy. You shake a cornerstone too hard and the whole edifice comes crumbling down.

So, stop women from choosing. Where to go, what to wear, what to eat, whom to love. Earlier, custom was enough. Now they’re using legislative strength.

Lose-lose for all will be the result. Wake up.

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