Protests In Chhattisgarh Against ‘Love Jihad’ After Hindu Woman Elopes And Does Conversion-Nikah With Muslim Man

A large-scale protest was staged in Chhattisgarh’s Jashpur district on Wednesday evening after a Hindu woman eloped and had conversion-nikah with a Muslim man.

Raising slogans against ‘love jihad’, hundreds of residents from Hindu community came on the streets. A video where a police officer is seen pushing a protester to the ground has gone viral on the social media, triggering anger against police.

The protesters

The case

Protest erupted after an affidavit given by the woman to the local court began circulating on the social media earlier this week.

In the affidavit (attached below), the woman has said:

– Her name is Sapna Gupta, and her date of birth is 2 December 2000

– She is marrying Shahbaz Ansari by her free will

– She is accepting Islam and has given her consent to Anjuman Islamia, Jashpur, for nikah as per Islamic rituals.

As per a report by Amar Ujala, Sapna eloped from her home on 6 November after her family arranged her marriage with a man from the Hindu community. The report says she eloped with Shahbaz last year too, but was recovered by the police.

In a video statement, the Superintendent of Police, Jashpur, Umesh Kashyap, told media that the woman’s father gave a complaint letter against Shahbaz, accusing him of luring his daughter for marriage.

The officer said he would go by the rules and take further action.

On the protests, he said that he would take action only after investigating the matter.

Watch a video of the protest below:

Here is another video where the police are seen mishandling a protester:

Love Jihad is a name given to the pattern where men from the Muslim community have been found to trap non-Muslim women in relationships for their religious conversion, or target them for sexual assault or exploitation. 

The term, coined by Christian organisations more than a decade ago in Kerala, has been used by religious groups affiliated to Sikh, Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and tribal bodies besides Christian groups.

The government’s National Crime Records Bureau does not recognise this pattern as a category of crimes or maintain data on sexual crimes against women by identifying the religion of victims and perpetrators. 

However, social activists and religious groups routinely highlight such cases and often hold protests against it. Several states, including Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, have enacted laws to penalise forced conversion through marriage. 

As per Indian laws, any woman above 18 years of age has the legal right to choose her partner irrespective of gender, age, religion, ethnicity, nationality or caste. However, there exists no equivalent of ‘love jihad’ for interfaith marriages between couples of other communities in the Indian society. 

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