August 17, 2017: A Hindu girl, Ravita Meghwar living in a village in Pakistan for 16 years was recently married off to a Muslim Man. The family members of the Hindu girl believe that the kidnappers drugged them and abdicated their daughter. Ravita who was rechristened to Gulnaz says she eloped and married by her own choice.
In the recent years, case after case has been reported of Hindu girls converting to Islam in the courts in Pakistan’s southern eastern Sindh province which is also the home to the majority of Pakistani Hindus. Lower-caste and low-income Hindus in Sindh work on farmlands for powerful, rich landowners as a result of which they face discrimination and are often cut off from the Hindu community at large.
The purportedly forcible conversions of Hindus have almost similar pattern in the cases. Targeting of minor girls has deeply disturbed the Hindu population in Pakistan.
The alarming situation feeds into a wider judgment-
Today Pakistan is deemed as an Islamic nationalist state where hardline religious groups are an intimidating force, and religious minorities are voiceless.
Pakistan was established as a Muslim state in 1947 where the country’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah proclaimed that the religious minorities should have the independence to live in the nation and follow their religion, however, as the time elapsed such has not been the scenario
The prominent Islamic religious organizations are striving hard to convert Hindu girls to Islam due to which some Hindus are leaving their settlements and migrating to other cities in Pakistan, or even so leaving Pakistan completely and departing to India. The community of Hindus in Pakistan has sharply declined from roughly 23 per cent in 1947 to barely 6 per cent presently owing to coerced conversions, suppression and oppression in Pakistan, mentioned ANI.
Ravita Meghwar’s brother-in-law, Lajpat Meghwadh says with respect to the issue, “The person who Ravita has gone off with has no connection to the family, except that they had a dispute. He has never come to our house”.
There are two contradictory perceptions from both the religious groups- while the Hindu activists claim that young girls are kidnaped, forced into converting to Islam, and wedded to Muslim men in an orderly manner, the Muslim leaders are defensive about the issue saying that conversions are a way of meriting blessings. Shockingly, these conversions are often strengthened by powerful muslim clerics and local politicians which assert that the girl voluntarily flew, converted, and married.
This poses a hurdle for lawyers who have to decide the justice for such cases. And in most of the cases, the girl’s assertion to marry at her own will settles the case, whereas her parents live in denial.`
Forced conversions became the focal point of the nation in 2012 when three Hindu girls were reported to have been forcibly converted to Islam and married to Muslim men.
Before we know what those cases were, here is a brief understanding of ‘Love Jihad’:
Where did Love Jihad come from?
In Islam, ‘Jihad’ typically means struggle or battle for a religious cause. Hence, ‘Love Jihad’ basically is a push to instill infatuation in girls of religious minorities by feigning love and hopes of marriage. In 2009, there were claims of forceful religious conversions in Kerala and Mangalore. In 2009, Justice KT Sankaran (Retd.), observed there were indications of forceful religious conversions in Kerala and that the government should mull over a law to prohibit such instances. “Under the pretext of love, there cannot be any compulsive, deceptive conversion,” the court said.
Some of the famous cases of Love Jihad:
In 2014, a case of Kaleem and Shalu Tyagi’s love affair from Meerut caught national attention which was pitched as a case of ‘Love Jihad’.
In the same year, another famous case where a national-level shooter Tara Shahdeo alleged that the person whom she thought to be a Hindu was actually a Muslim and that her in-laws were coercing her to convert to Islam.
This year, again with the Hadiya case, ‘Love Jihad’ came into recognition. The Kerala High Court declared the marriage of a Hindu girl and Muslim man null and void after the woman’s father testified that his daughter has been recruited by Islamic State (IS) in Syria. After this, the Muslim husband approached the Supreme court seeking justice. On Wednesday, NIA stated that ‘Love Jihad existed’ in a response to SC orders. The agency further claimed it was not a distinctive incident on the part of Love Jihad campaign but a ‘pattern’ that has been emerging in Kerala, mentioned PTI.