The ‘love jihad’ does not exist, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the Uttar Pradesh government has found after two months of investigation.
The SIT set up in September to probe alleged cases of ‘love jihad’ has ruled out any conspiracy angle in the 14 such cases it investigated and also found no evidence that the Muslim youths involved got any funding from abroad, reports The Indian Express.
The SIT, which submitted its report on Monday (November 23), also dismissed charges that the youths had the backing of any organisation.
The SIT’s findings come two days after the Uttar Pradesh government announced that it would bring an ordinance to check unlawful conversions in the state, primarily aimed at alleged cases of ‘love jihad’.
The SIT was formed by Inspector General (Kanpur Range) Mohit Agarwal after members of right-wing Hindu organisations, including the VHP, met him and alleged a conspiracy by Muslim youths to lure Hindu girls into marriage in a bid to convert them. They also claimed that the youths, who are being funded from abroad, had hid their identities from the girls.
The SIT, headed by Deputy Superintendent of Police Vikas Pandey, submitted its report to Agarwal on Monday after probing 14 cases lodged in police stations across Kanpur district over the last two years involving Hindu girls and Muslim men.
Agarwal said of the 14 cases, the SIT found that the police had taken action against the accused in 11 cases under Sections 363 (punishment for kidnapping), 366 (kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage, etc) and other charges. In eight cases, it was established that the victims (the girls) were minors.
In three of the 14 cases, the SIT found that police had filed closure reports after the Hindu women, all above 18 years, had given statements in favour of the accused, stating either that they had married Muslim men or been with them of their own free will, said Agarwal.
Of the 11 cases in which action was taken against the accused men, the SIT found that in three cases, the youths had allegedly used false identities, including preparing fake documents, to impress the girls. In these three cases, police have added charges of fraud against the accused, said the IG.
In a yet another of ‘love jihad’ allegation being dismiised, a case filed against a Muslim man by the parents of his wife, who converted to Islam last year to marry him, was cancelled by the Allahabad High Court. “Interference in a personal relationship would constitute a serious encroachment into the right to freedom of choice of the two individuals,” the court observed in a verdict that is significant in the middle of a fiery debate over ‘love jihad’.
“We do not see Priyanka Kharwar and Salamat Ansari 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 the constitutional courts in particular are enjoined to uphold the life and liberty of an individual guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” said a two-judge bench.
Salamat Ansari, a resident of east UP’s Kushinagar, and Priyanka Kharwar married against her parents’ wishes in August last year. Priyanka converted to Islam and changed her name to ‘Alia’ just before their wedding.
The same month, Priyanka’s parents filed an FIR or First Information Report against Salamat, accusing him of crimes like “kidnapping” and “abduction to compel a marriage”. They included the stringent POCSO Act (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act), claiming that their daughter was a minor when she married.
On November 11, the Allahabad High Court ruled on Salamat’s petition requesting that the FIR be cancelled.
“The right to live with a person of his/her choice irrespective of religion professed by them, is intrinsic to right to life and personal liberty,” the High Court said in the 14-page order, rejecting arguments by the UP government as well as the woman’s parents.