The politics of communal polarization in is focusing on many identity issues, one being the Love Jihad, where the Hindu girl married to a Muslim or Christian man is targeted, and is legally manipulated in a manner to ensure that she is forced to be sent to her parents or sent to ‘anti Conversion clinics’.  There is some public knowledge about Hadiya and the bogey of Love Jihad, spiced up with recruitment for participating in Jihad in Syria. Still, the cases of the likes of Swetha, a Hindu woman confined in a Yoga Center, where she is being pressurized to abandon her marriage to a Christian man are much less known. As per Shwetha the Yoga center as such is a re conversions clinic for those women who have adopted Christianity or Islam and married non Hindus. Lot has been coming in the media about the alleged immaturity of the girl Akhila who converted to Islam and married a Muslim man, who is a worker of Popular Front of India (PFI).

The total focus on linking the case to PFI, to alleged joining of planned terrorist activity in Syria was brought in to give a different twist to the case. This was the pretext for the NIA to step in. This made the link of conversion of Akhila as a sinister plan to woo Hindu girls, covert them to Islam and induct them into the terror module. Quite a fertile imagination of those in authority. In Hadiya’s case Court went to the extent of declaring that a 24 years old girl is of a tender mind and is gullible. The judges might have forgotten that in India age of voting is 18 years, after which the person becomes adult and responsible for one’s decisions and actions. Hadiya did say in the Court that her conversion and marriage to a Muslim man is out of her own volition. Later Court hearings did not call her for depositions. Even the latest Court verdict has given a month’s time before court will hear here her in person (30th October 2017). These are surprising times. An adult, a Homeopathic student is mature enough for decisions for her life, but keeping her in her parents’ custody away from her husband is unthinkable on moral and social grounds, grounds which should guide the interpretation of law and consequent decision.

In case of Swetha, the Yoga Center (Ernakulam) , where she has been detained turns out to be a place where emotional blackmail and even threats are being used to force the girls to abandon their new faith or to force their spouse to convert to Hinduism. Another Hindu woman Sruthi Meledath also testified similar experience when she was asked to leave her Muslim husband Anees Hamid, whom she planned to marry. This was at Yogvidya Kendram. The similarity of the agenda of such centers is very clear.

The issue of Love Jihad will become so dangerous for women in love, was not anticipated a decade ago. The cleverly crafted ‘Love Jihad’ campaign is based on the patriarchal notions, which are one of the core ingredients of communal politics. As per this communal thinking the notion of ‘Our women’, their women’ guides them. Woman is regarded as the property of man and is symbol of community honor. In precipitating communal violence rumors based of threat to ‘our women’ is put at the forefront, Mujaffarnagar violence being the prime example of the same. At the same time violating the modesty of women of other community comes as a badge of honor in this scheme of things. The love jihad issue began with Coastal Karnataka, where inter religious marriage were targeted, particularly when the girl was Hindu and the boy was Muslim in most cases and occasionally Christian. As such in an open society, social interaction among people of different religions does provide the ground for inter community interaction. This is something which can be the strong cementing factor in the concept of Fraternity in the triad of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

During freedom movement, people like Gandhi and Ambedkar proactively talked about the role of intercommunity marriages in promoting abolition of caste, and to extend the point inter religion marriages are the ground on which communal harmony and national integration find deeper and solid base. This is what the trajectory of things in democratic society should be. With the clouds of communal divisiveness coming up on the horizon, the patriarchal notions and attempt to control the lives of women have become stronger. In India Hindu communalists in particular have been floating organizations to discourage such alliances and to break them to when such unions take place.

One recalls the notorious Babu Bajrangi whose prime role was to attack inter community couples. In West Bengal the case of Priyanka todi and Rizwan Kausar is a painful reminder of the malady taking deep its roots in the society. While patriarchal values are there in other social ideologies also, in communalism, fundamentalism these are absolute in degree. While there are glorious examples of marriages, Hindu boy Muslim girl and vice versa, it seems the intimidations of the likes of Hadiya and Shruthi are being taken to absurd limits to set example in the society to dissuade others. Yoga Centre’s as decoy for breaking inter-caste marriages is sad news. Here deceit is the tool to break the spirit of girls involved in the process. The torture of the spouse involved in these cases has not been much recorded. As such love knows no boundaries of caste, class, religion and nationality. One can say inter religious marriages can also be an index of communal harmony and transition to a society where Gender equality is respected and striven for!

These two incidents have abundantly demonstrated that here in Kerala apart from the bogey of CPM’s attacks on RSS cadres love jihad is a big propaganda issue raked up during last few years.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

Tipu Sultan: Diverse Narratives

Ram Puniyani

From couple of years around 10th November, BJP has been undertaking the smearing campaign against Tipu Sultan. Incidentally from last 3 years Government of Karnataka has been celebrating the anniversary of Tipu. As such he is the only King, who laid down his life while fighting against the British. This year around as November 10 approached, Mr. Anantkumar, the Union Minister and a major BJP leader from Karnataka, turned down the invitation of Karnataka Government to be part of the Tipu anniversary celebration. His argument was that Tipu was a mass murderer, wretched fanatic and rapist. At places there were protests organized by BJP.

Certain sections of the society also consider him a tyrant who engaged in forced conversions. He is also accused of promoting Persian at the cost of Kannada. It is also alleged that his letters to his Generals, claimed to be in British possession now, show that he believed that kafirs should be decimated. There is no dearth of such periodic controversies being raked up around his name. What is being propagated on the basis of some flimsy sources is that he destroyed hundreds of temples and killed thousands of Brahmins!

Incidentally just a month ago, Ramnath Kovind, the President of India, who has a RSS background, was on a different trip. He praised Tipu by saying that “Tipu Sultan died a heroic death fighting the British. He was also a pioneer in the development and use of Mysore rockets in warfare.” Many BJP spokespersons, uncomfortable with this statement, undermined the President by saying that false inputs were provided to Rashtrapati Bhavan by Karnataka Government.

As such there are diverse attitude towards Tipu from within RSS-BJP stable itself. In 2010, B.S. Yeddyyurappa, the BJP leader adorned Tipu’s headgear and held a mock sword, on the eve of elections. In 1970s RSS had published a book praising Tipu, calling him patriotic, this book was part of Bharat Bharati series.

On the other side noted Kannada playwright Girish Karnad is all praise for Tipu to the extent that he supported the demand to name Bangaluru airport in his name. Karnad has also been stating that had Tipu been Hindu, he would have been accorded the same status in Karnataka, which Shivaji has in Maharashtra.

One recalls that Tipu has been made popular through the 60 episode serial based on Bhagwan Gidwani’s script, the ‘Sword of Tipu Sultan’, which also focuses on the fight of Tipu against East India Company. Tipu had corresponded with the Marathas and Nizam of Hyderabad to dissociate themselves from the British forces, the intrusion of which he saw particularly harmful for this region. This policy of his led to various battles against British. It was in the fourth Anglo Mysore war of 1799 battle that he lost his life. He has been immortalized in the popular memory of Karnataka people through folk songs. This is very much akin to iconization of Shivaji in popular memory in Maharashtra.

Why did Tipu use Persian as the Court language? It is important to recognize that Persian was the court language in the sub-continent at that time. Even Shivaji of Maharashtra was using Persian in his correspondence and had had Maulana Hyder Ali as his Chief Secretary, for doing this. Tipu was not a religious fanatic as he is being projected by them today. Tipu’s policies were not driven by religion. In fact, in his letter to Shankaracharya of Kamkoti Peetham, he refers to the Acharya as Jagatguru (World Teacher). He also donated rich offerings to his shrine.

When the Maratha army of Patwardhan plundered the Sringeri monastery, Tipu Sultan respectfully restored the monastery to its glory. During his reign, ten-day Dushehara celebrations were an integral part of the social life of Mysore. Sarfaraz Shaikh in his book ‘Sultan-E-Khudad’ has reproduced the ‘Manifesto of Tipu Sultan’. In it, he declares that he would not discriminate on religious grounds and would protect his empire until his last breath.

There is a charge that he persecuted certain communities. It is true. The reason for this persecution was purely political not religious. About these persecutions historian Kate Brittlebank comments, “This was not a religious policy but one of chastisement”. The communities targeted by him were seen as disloyal to the state. The communities he targeted did not just belong to Hindu stream he also acted against some Muslim communities like the Mahdavis. The reason was that these communities were in support of British and were employed as horsemen in the East India Company’s armies. Another historian Susan Bayly says that his attacking Hindus and Christians outside his state is to be seen on political grounds as he at the same time had developed close relations with these communities within Mysore.

As such the alleged letters in possession of British, where he is supposed to have talked of killing Kafirs and converting them, needs to be seen rationally, their genuineness apart. We have to see the person in his totality. When he has Purnaiyya, a Hindu Brahmin, as his Chief Advisor, when he is all respectful to Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamkotipeetham, it is unlikely that he could have been on a murderous spree of Hindus. British have been harsh against Tipu on purpose as he was the one to oppose the advance of British in India and wrote to Marathas and Nizam that we should settle things among ourselves and keep British out. Due to this he was singled out by British; who vehemently demonized their opponents. There is a need to have a balanced picture of this warrior king, who took on the might of British and could foresee that British are a different power, different cup of tea; so to say, to be shunned at all the cost. In that sense he is the pioneer in Anti British resistance on this soil.

The vacillations of communalists, from praising him to presenting him as an evil character are motivated attempts to uphold their communal ideology, nothing else!

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED