Ground report: A massive protest estimated to have been attended by 50,000 people was taken out in Maharashtra’s Dhule district on Sunday (18 December) to demand a law against forced conversion of Hindu women by Muslim men.
Cases of the pattern where men from the Muslim community trap non-Muslim women in relationships for the purpose of their conversion or sexual exploitation, are commonly called ‘love jihad’ – a term that was coined by Christian organisations in Kerala more than a decade ago.
Lately, this term has been used by Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist and tribal communities in street protests against the pattern.
Protesters in Dhule, a lot of whom were women, carried placards asking women to stay away from the trap of ‘love jihad’ and raised slogans demanding the Government of Maharashtra to bring a law to penalise men who carry it out.
Rashtra Jyoti correspondent, Mayur Bhosale, told Swarajya that the protest was called by Sambhaji Bhide.
Sangli-based Bhide, endearingly called ‘Guruji’ by his many followers, is a Hindu activist who runs an organisation named Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan. He is said to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The protest march began with aarti of a statue of Shivaji Maharaj in Dhule, and moved to several parts of the district, swelling in numbers. Besides men and women, kinnars (transgenders) from an akhara also joined the march.
The text on the various placards carried by the protesters said:
-‘एक धक्का और दो, लव जिहाद को तोड़ दो” (give one more push, destroy love jihad)
-“अब मोमबत्ती नही चलेगी, मां भवानी की तलवार चलेगी” (no more candles, but swords)
-“लव जिहाद्यांचा चौरांग करा” (chop the limbs of love jihadis)
-“गाय को मां समझ रोटी खिलाने वाला, और गाय को लजीज़ समझ रोटी के साथ खाने वाला भाई भाई कैसे हो सकता है”? (How can those who feed the cow and those who eat the cow be friends?)
-“हिंदू युवतीनों जागे व्हा, दुर्गा चंडी काली व्हा” (Hindu women, wake up, be Durga, Kaali, Chandi)
-“भाईचाऱ्याचा नका देऊ मौका, हिंदू बहिणींना लव्ह जिहाद पासून रोका” (stop your daughters and sisters from love jihad)
-“लव जिहाद की कब्र खुदेगी हिंदुस्तान की धरती पर” (the grave of love jihad will be made in Hindustan).
As per the eye-witness, two recent cases from Maharashtra triggered this protest.
In the first case, a 24-year-old Hindu woman filed a case against her Muslim husband and his father for fraud and rape.
The woman said in her complaint that Arshad Malik trapped her in relationship after lying that he was ‘Harshad Mali’. After she was stuck in a marriage with him, she was sexually exploited by both him and his father Salim.
She said that when she tried to raise her voice against it, Arshad threatened to chop her into 70 pieces – double of what Shraddha was subjected to.
A first information report (FIR) was registered in the matter at Dhule’s Debpur police station on 1 December 2022 (number 342/2022).
In the second case, a 14-year-old minor girl from the tribal Bhil community in Malegaon town of Nashik district was allegedly abducted by a man named Mohammed Imran Sheikh with the intention of nikah through her conversion. The girl went missing on the day of Diwali and was recovered by the police 15 days later.
An FIR was filed for kidnapping (IPC section 363) at Malegaon Camp Post police station on 25 October (number 166/2022).
The girl told a reporter that Imran got her converted to Islam and renamed her as Shobiya. After her statement, the Malegaon police arrested Imran and booked him further under POCSO Act.
Below are some pictures of the event, shared by Bhosale. We are publishing these with his permission. He said that the formation of the protest was such that it was led by young women, followed by older women, kinnars, Divyangs, and encircling them were men.
This report was first published at Swarajya here.
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