Love Jehad, the controversial love marriages between Hindu girls and Muslim boys, has become a major socio-political issue not only in Uttar Pradesh but also in Tamil Nadu. Mahesh, 40-year-old district president of Hindu Front in Vellore says the last two years have seen more than 50 such marriages in Vellore district alone.
Girls from poor Hindu families are wooed by Muslim youth promising opulent and luxurious married life. “The boys offer gifts which include mobile phones, jewellery, perfumes and a host of other things. Mobile phones are their main weapon. They win over the confidence of the girls through phone conversations lasting hours without the knowledge of the parents of the girls,” said Mahesh, who took The Pioneer to parents whose daughters had eloped with Muslim youths.
Vellaiyappan, leader of the Hindu Front was murdered in 2013 for campaigning against Love Jehad. He had tried to create an awareness among Hindu girls, the potential victims, about the dangers and intentions of the Muslim youths involved in Love Jehad.
“My sister and my family owe it to Vellaiyappan for saving us in time,” said Venkatesh, a cab driver in Vellore. His sister Gayathri (name changed) was working in a tannery to supplement the family income when she was approached by a good looking youth. “He always expressed sympathies with me for working at a young age and told me that I deserve much better life. He told me that if I marry him, he would take care of me as well as my family. I was told that his brothers were in West Asian countries and it would not be a problem for him to get a good job for my brothers. His only condition was that I should get converted to Islam which I agreed though I knew that my parents and brothers would never approve it,” said Gayathri.
When his efforts to persuade Gayathri could not succeed, Vellaiyappan and Venkatesh went in search of the family of the youth. “To our shock we found that there was no such family and there were no brothers working in Gulf countries. We found that the youth had a criminal past and had married two Hindu girls in the past from Vellore district itself. The parents of the girls did not file police complaint fearing societal remarks,” said Venkatesh.
But Fiyaz Ahmed, the soft spoken district president of the Popular Front of India denied the charges. “This is a mere allegation by the Sangh Parivar. There are young girls working in leather factories and tanneries in Vellore. It is natural for grown-up girls to fall in love with their colleagues. We do not have anything to do with these marriages,” said Ahmed.
What is of great interest is that the change of religion in all these cases is certified by a particular notary and this has given rise to doubts about a wider conspiracy. But police officials expressed their helplessness. “Any girl above the age of 18 are free to go with person of their choice. If you can prove that the girl was abducted or married off against her wishes, we can help you,” said a senior police official.
Intelligence officials said that both the State and Central Governments have been informed about the unprecedented increase in the number of girls eloping with Muslim youth.