Issues like “love jihad” have been played up repeatedly by the Western media only to target India’s current political dispensation

In a recent article ‘Interfaith love a risk amid India’s Hindu nationalist surge,’ the US media outlet, Associated Press said: “The “love jihad” issue has pitted the BJP against secular activists who warn it undermines constitutional guarantees of religious freedom and puts Muslims in the crosshairs of Hindu nationalists, emboldened by a prime minister who has mostly stayed mum about rising attacks on Muslims since he was first elected in 2014.”

The Associated Press appears judgmental while carrying out such stories; it should have checked the facts on the ground for the sake of news credibility.

The Prime Minister has spoken several times on the rights of minority communities in India.

According to Hindustan Times, Prime Minister Modi has spoken a number of times that his government is committed to protect the right of every individual to adopt and retain the religion of his choice. In 2015, he spoke in length about his government’s approach towards the minority community. “My government will ensure there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence,” Prime Minister Modi said.

In the backdrop of attacks on Muslims, he was quoted by Hindustan Times in 2015 as saying: “My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly. Mine will be a government that gives equal respect to all religions.”

Hence, to say that Prime Minister Modi has mostly stayed mum about rising attacks on Muslims in India will be like belying the truth. The US media outlet might have come across Prime Minister Modi’s strongest ever comment on the issue of religious freedom. In no uncertain terms he said, “Our Constitution guarantees religious freedom to every citizen and that is not negotiable. I have said this before and I say it again: any discrimination or violence against any community will not be tolerated.”

Read the complete article in Hindustan Times:

As regarding “love jihad,” which is largely seen as deceptive means of conversion of Hindu, Sikh or Christian girls to Islam, the Prime Minister has spoken against it. However, Western media like BBC or international think tanks like the Pew Research Centre in their surveys have found that Indians by large are religiously tolerant. Yet they want an end to the menace of marriages outside their community.

According to the Pew Research Centre survey, published by BBC on June 29, of the total 30,000 people interviewed across India in 17 languages, 80 percent of the Muslims felt it was important to stop people from their community from marrying into another religion. Around 65 percent of Hindus felt the same. The study further said: “Indians simultaneously express enthusiasm for religious tolerance and a consistent preference for keeping their religious communities in segregated spheres - they live together separately.”

Read the complete article in BBC news:

The Associated Press further said that violence against interfaith couples in India has increased in recent years, perpetrated by hard-line Hindu nationalists who want to stop such relationships. Hundreds of Muslims men have been assaulted, and many couples have been forced to go into hiding. Some have been killed.

Unfortunately, the US media outlet has not presented the true picture. Legal actions have been taken against persons who have perpetrated violence against interfaith couples in India. In October, three people were arrested over an attack on an interfaith couple in Belagavi in Karnataka, a southern Indian state. Perpetrators of the attack belonged to non-Hindu community.

Read the complete article in The Hindu:

In India, attacks on interfaith couples are not as scary as the Associated Press has painted. Had there been so then there would not have so many inter-religious marriages in the country. On October 22, 2020, the Indian Express came out with a study that presented a glimpse of interfaith marriages in India. As per this study, 2.21 percent of all married women between the age group of 15-49 had married outside their religion. Inter-religious marriages are greater among the women living in urban areas at 2.9 percent compared to 1.8 percent of rural areas. The study further said that the prevalence of women marrying outside their religion is the highest amongst Christians with 3.5 percent of women having mixed marriages. Sikh comes second at 3.2 percent, Hindu’s 1.5 percent and Muslims 0.6 percent. Such data shows high prevalence of inter-faith marriages, which would not have taken place in the atmosphere of fear as the Associated Press has maintained in its report.

Read the complete article in The Indian Express: