Love jihad and forced conversion activities have been long practised in Kerala and such issues were often ignored by the Communist government. Now as the state heads for the polls, the issue of love jihad is in the talks again. A few weeks ago, E Sreedharan, the Metro Man of India and BJP CM candidate for the Kerala assembly elections had talked about the issue.
He said, “Love jihad, yes, I see what’s happened in Kerala. How Hindus are being tricked in a marriage and how they suffer…not only Hindus, Muslims, the Christian girls are being tricked in a marriage. Now that sort of a thing I certainly will oppose.” Coming from a man of science, who has had a distinguished career of spearheading the Delhi metro and Konkan Railway projects, such assertions have put left-liberals in an uncomfortable spot.
Now, Kerala Congress (Mani) chief Jose K Mani has said that love jihad is a major issue and needs to be studied and addressed. “There are some cases which have come up that need to be addressed, we should definitely address it. If something like this is taking place, we should address it,” Mani said.
“There are some issues and apprehension about this. The government should clearly come out about what has happened and if there are any such cases (of ‘love jihad’), they should be addressed and stopped,” he added.
In the last few months, the Christian community in Kerala has consistently raised the issue of love jihad. Previously, Kerala Catholics Bishop Council Deputy General Secretary Varghese Vallikkat stood up against the phenomenon and said that “love jihad” should be addressed at a broader level and “secular political parties should at least accept” that it existed in Kerala.
“A small group of people in the state is continuously getting radicalised and it has its links to international and global Islam. It varies in names, but people and the leadership of these groups are almost the same,” said Vallikkat. He also added that secular parties in Kerala were not interested in discussing ‘love jihad’.
In the last few years, the Christian community has been the target of the radicalised Muslim youth who are marrying Christian women and converting them. This has alarmed the Christian community in the state and forced the Catholic church as well as the Syrian-Malabar church to raise the issue. So far, the secular parties, which included the ones supported by the Christian community like Kerala Congress (M) were not even ready to acknowledge that an issue like love jihad exists.
But, after the BJP started getting support from people of the Christian community who constitute 19 per cent of Kerala’s population, Kerala Congress (M), which draws its voter base primarily from the community, has started raising the issue of love jihad.
People of Sreedharan’s stature talking about love jihad has also made the issue ‘acceptable’ in the discourse of the mainstream media, at least in Kerala. For quite some time now, the left-liberal ecosystem has been trying to portray love jihad as a figment of the imagination of ‘Hindu fringe and fanatics.’ E Sreedharan is not a fanatic by any stretch of the mind. Yet, his remarks against the menace of love jihad are being discounted by a section of the national media, but in Kerala, it has been recognised by other parties as a major issue. Moreover, given the people’s sentiment around the issue, it might help BJP to come to power in the upcoming Kerala assembly election.