India's Home Minister knows nothing about 'Love Jihad'

(Photo: REUTERS / Anindito Mukherjee)A roadside barber shaves a man's face in front of the Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) in the old quarters of Delhi August 13, 2014.

India's home affairs minister has denied knowledge of a "love jihad" happening in some parts of the country but has assured minority groups there will be no discrimination in the name of religion or caste.

"What is it? I don't know...I have no idea," the Indian Express quoted Home Minister Rajnath Singh as saying in New Delhi on September 12 in the Indian Express, following reports that some Muslims suspected in is a sectarian conspiracy.

Singh was referring to the supposed phenomenon in which Muslim men allegedly lure Hindu women into marriage and force them to convert to Islam.

"Love jihad" has been reported to occur in Kerala, Mangalore in Karnataka state, and Uttar Pradesh, supposedly its "epicentre."

The issue has made headlines following claims of national shooter Tara Sahdeo that her husband, Ranjit Ranjit Singh Kohli, alias Rakibul Hassan, tortured and forced her to convert to Islam, Zee News reported.

This triggered uproar in Jharkhand, a state in eastern India and led to her husband's arrest, said the report.

However, some political parties accused India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, a pro-Hindu political party, of using the term "love jihad" as a political tool to foment an atmosphere of communal tension.

Recently, several young Muslim youths have been arrested on supposedly false terror charges but Singh said minority communities should have faith in the government.

"We will not discriminate against anyone in the name of religion or case. We will ensure justice to everyone," he was quoted as saying.

One of the most influential Islamic seminaries in South Asia, Darul Uloom Deoband denounced "love jihad," saying that marriages with Hindu girls after their coercive conversion to Islam were illegal.

The seminary also said that "the bogey of 'love jihad'" was being raised by people with vested interest and that the issue was being misused to disrupt communal harmony, reported The Hindu newspaper.

"It would be an illegitimate and illegal act to dupe a Hindu girl and forcibly convert her through marriage.

"In our view, forced conversion of a girl or a boy just to get married is unacceptable," stated Ashraf Usmani, the seminary's press secretary.

"How can 'love jihad' be acceptable? Islam treats women with the utmost respect. It does not allow boys to flirt with girls. How can it allow them to forcibly convert women of other faiths," Usmani was further quoted as saying.

"We are quite concerned at the manner in which the issue of 'love jihad' is being misused to disturb communal harmony. People with vested interests are exploiting it to pit one community against the other," he added.

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