The Intercept: Hindu Vigilantes Work With Police to Enforce “Love Jihad” Law in North India
Hindu nationalist groups in Uttar Pradesh are using an anti-conversion law to violently break up interfaith couples and legitimate an anti-Muslim conspiracy theory.
The moment Sanjay Shukla got the call that a Hindu woman had run away from home with her Muslim boyfriend, he set in motion a search operation to find her and bring her back to her family in Bareilly, a city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Shukla, a father and drug store owner, relayed the information he received from one of the woman’s male relatives to the head of the far-right Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Bareilly district. Pawan Arora immediately phoned a senior state police official.
“We have just got information that a Muslim boy has run away with a Hindu girl. Take her number and put it on surveillance immediately,” Arora said. “No case has been registered yet, the information has just come in. I thought I would tell you. We need to be active — they may leave the city.”
Arora called Shukla back and instructed him to tell the woman’s family to file a complaint at the local police station that she had gone missing. Shukla advised the family not to accuse the man of forcing her to flee, which she could dispute if the case ended up in court. He also told them to stop calling her — if she decided to turn off her phone, the police could lose her location.
Shukla described the woman as an educated 27-year-old schoolteacher from a well-respected, upper-caste family, and that the man was unfit to be in a relationship with her.
“Her parents have a big house and gave her every comfort. Why would she go with a Muslim who is a munshi to some lawyer?” he said, using the Hindi word for bookkeeper, which is considered a lowly job. “Do your parents raise you to shame them in their old age?”
According to Shukla, the woman would never choose to be with the man unless he had “brainwashed” her. It was up to self-appointed saviors like Shukla to rescue her.
“We have to get the woman back in our control,” he said. “We have to save her and Hindu society.”
In under 12 hours, Shukla and the police tracked down the couple and returned the woman home.