A young aspiring Nikita Tomar was murdered by Tauseef, who happened to be stalking her since here college days as both studied in the same institution in Faridabad. Nikita, it is reported, had turned down the proposal of Tauseef in the past. The young man could not take the rejection and killed her. The entire incident is recorded in a CCTV camera which show that Tauseef tried to kidnap Nikita but having failed in doing so he shot her and ran away. There seems to be other accomplishes too in this crime.

The Haryana government swung into action and formed an SIT to probe into the details of the issue and got the accused arrested. Now, this would have been an incident of a young boy feeling humiliated after the ‘rejection’ by the girl but since the story is between the Hindu girl and a Muslim boy, the media has jumped into it suggesting it is ‘love jehad’. The irresponsible reporting from the TV channel is deliberately done in a highly despicable way because of electoral issues and blaming the entire community for the same. If the accused was merely Tauseef, how would media have reported the issue. They would have said, it is a failed lovers story or a Romeo trying to intimidate the girl who does not want to respond or reject the boy’s overtures.

Unsurprisingly, there is not much reactions from the ‘liberals’ on the issue. Not that they need to respond but important that the disease in India is far bigger and it is time we understand this. Is our activism or criticism extremely selective which may make us champion in the eyes of our friends but help those who are using the narrative to vilify the Muslims on the ground. And this is not the single event. A few weeks back, a young boy named Rahul, was allegedly killed by the relatives and family of a girl who happened to be in relationship with him but belonged to Muslim community. Now, one does not suggest that the entire community is responsible for this, but it is important that we speak up because we all have our own prejudices in making communities victim and villains. Why is that when a crime is committed by some particular community individuals is used to vilify the entire community and I can say this is not the Hindutva problem but also of those who pretend to be fighting against them.

Now, both Nikita and Rahul’s murder became a high point of anti Muslim propaganda by the notorious IT Cell. Now, Karni Sena too have jumped into the issue and media is already saying that Nikita was victim of Love Jehad. More over, there is also a campaign that Tauseef is the relative of a Congress MLA in Haryana. While, being a relative of a person does not make one complicit of the crime, as reported by various newspapers that Nikita’s family had filed a case against Tauseef in March and that time his family begged and wanted to close the case. It is also being reported that Tauseef was also a brilliant student and was in love with Nikita. Whether this was a one sided love or an affair, the fact is that a girl was murdered just because she refused to comply or surrendered meekly.
Police has already arrested the accused and is filing the case but the media has concluded that it is love Jehad. Nikita’s family has asked for ‘death penalty’. There are few lessons from these cases which we hear often and we need to be careful. A few days back, ‘secular’ ‘liberal’ ‘celebrities’ were upset with the Tatas withdrawing Tanishka advertisement under pressure from the troll army which felt that Hindu sentiments were ‘hurt’. Tanishka withdrew the advertisement and ‘liberals’ were upset. Ofcourse, the same liberals dont give Charlie Habdo a right to offend which is very much part of French culture. It may not be part of our culture but definitely of their culture.

The issue is not really of Love Jehad but why has it come to this level that every interfaith marriage or affair has potential of becoming a big communal flare up. If we know that our actions are resulting in our communities behaving in such a way to seek blood then what is the way out. Same things are happening when people marry beyond their castes. It is also true that even when people marry with in their castes and against the choices of their parents such things are happening. So this is the issue of our individual choices which is facing real obstruction from our parents and societies. A few of those who claim it are actually living in the other world. They have money and privileges to live without society and people but those who are depended on families cant revolt and if they then they face not merely backlash but threat to get killed.

So what is the way out ? Should we discourage our youngsters to look for their own partners. I say very openly that Love Jehad campaign is nothing but an attempt to suggest that only parents and relatives should decide about your future and no adult person has a right to decide because everything that we decide must have an ‘approval’ of ‘society’ and ‘family’ which will never be happy with our independent choices. That is why Dr Ambedkar had said long ack that we are still not a society because an individual is not respected here and we dont respect his individuality, privacy and choices.

The point is how do you tackle with obsession of an individual. It is a crime and should be told to your youngsters in the schools. Will we discuss in our schools and colleges how to respect freedom and choices. What is that ? The fact is the way our women and other dissenters get trolled on social media speak volume of the ‘maturity’ of our system. These trolls are nothing but young boys and girls of ‘respectable’ families who want to get noticed and shout loudly that ‘our culture is great’. Nothing wrong in that but a culture or a system does not become ‘great’ and ‘powerful’ just because we want it or like it. We will have to create an environment which does not exists. The issue of freedom, choices and individuality comes from an enabling environment which is fast reducing. We are between the Hindus and Muslims without suggesting that we have to fight against the evils. Definitely the system here has its own anti Muslim prejudices and need to be rectified but it is important to ask a few questions which are important for all of us to understand that Women have their own agency and voices as an independent person and not some one’s wife, mother or sister. The question one should ask as why should a woman be forced to either change her name, religion or cultural practices just she is marrying into an another faith. Why should the name of the children in these inter-faith marriages be of the male’s choice. Why cant we develop secular ways of marriages. In Europe humanist marriages are on the rise as people don’t want religious marriages. That is the only way for those who are individuals and want to marry out of their choice. The best way for a interfaith marriage to sustain is not to ask your partner to convert and enjoy the good practices and cultural values of both the cultures. Imposing one culture and value system will create issues and bring an end to it.

It is time for us to come out of these calculations of whether the issue may help the Hindutva or Asaduddin Owaisi because unless we speak up boldly and categorically, things are going to worsen. South Asia as a whole has not shown any respect for individuality and majoritarianism and hating minorities and dissent is part and parcel of our ‘culture’. That way hate mongers are ‘secular’ in their hatred towards ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘individual rights’. Those youngsters who claim to love some one must understand that a woman is not here to be ‘owned’ by some one. She has a right to reject you even if you were in relationship. This is my request to youngsters particularly girls to focus on their economic independence and then think of anything else. The youngsters must be very clear that if their partner or lover belong to any other religion or caste or nationality, please think all pros and cons. You will have to be absolutely free mind without any prejudice to be in such a relationship. Asking your female partner to change as per your ‘culture’, ‘religion’ and ‘nationality’ will only bring disaster to such a relationship. It might have worked in the past or with certain cases where women have ‘accepted’ it but it wont succeed all the times. For the men, it is also important that rejection by some one is not the ‘end’ of era and one must move ahead with that.

For all others, I would say, let the police investigate the matter and come to a conclusion. A crime is a crime but dont bring your conspiracy theories in it. Do your journalism and not become part of a propaganda machinery which can damage our society. For a stronger India we need vibrant youth free from the religious, caste and gender prejudices of the past as we cant stuck there and have to move ahead to make a better and inclusive India.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist


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