“I have experienced love jihad, where one is not allowed to talk about religion or other matters,” says Anil Kumar, an MBA student from Hyderabad, who is in the midst of a three-year study on the phenomenon.
“It has made me feel alienated, even angry.
It is not only a form of religion but a way of life, which can be harmful.”
In the past two years, the phenomenon of ‘love jihad’ has seen a spike in reports across the country.
The trend has gained visibility in the last few years and has been fuelled by social media and social media platforms like WhatsApp.
But it has also been a major concern for the community and activists.
“A lot of people are facing this in the context of the recent incidents,” said Ramakrishna Kumar, founder of the Indian Society for Hinduism (ISHI) in New Delhi.
“People are becoming more aware about it, but it is also not being discussed openly or seriously.”
It is not just a matter of politics, he said.
“This is a big problem, and we need to address it,” Kumar added.
“In our society, there is a lot of intolerance, but there is also a lot that goes unnoticed.”
The issue is being dealt with with different tools and ways.
In the past, people have been asked to be quiet in the presence of the president of the Hindu community.
But that has now changed.
“If you are not careful, you can get caught in a trap, which could be deadly,” Kumar said.
The issue has become much more prevalent on social media, where a section of people have created ‘lovejihad’ groups to discuss the issue and share their experiences.
In recent days, one of the groups, the ‘Amita Bhavan’, has been actively recruiting people.
“The idea behind it is that if you can share your experiences on WhatsApp, it will help the community to better understand what is going on,” Kumar explained.
In the wake of recent incidents, the community has been pushing for social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp to be banned, but that is not happening.
The BJP, which has made it its prime plank in its electoral campaign, has also not been happy with the move.
“BJP has not accepted the views of the community on ‘love Jihad’,” said Suresh Kumar, a leader in the group, who did not want to be identified.
“We have been getting calls and messages from people who are afraid of what might happen if we take this step.
The media has also made it clear that we are not going to be tolerated.”
In an attempt to dispel the issue, Kumar and other activists have launched a petition in the Goa Assembly, seeking a ban on all platforms.
“The government has not listened to us and is also ignoring our concerns,” Kumar told me.
“But the BJP is not going against the community, and the government needs to listen to it.”
Kumar’s group is now working on how to build awareness on the issue through online platforms and social networks.
But for now, it has to wait and see what the BJP does next.