Coastal Karnataka is in a state of ferment. There appears to be no respite from incidents that can be utilised for polarisation of voters in the Assembly due in about three months. Even as the situation has limped back to normalcy in Uttara Kannada district, two incidents, one after the other, have rocked Dakshina Kannada district.
A couple of Hindu girls were assaulted for going out with Muslim boys to an amusement park. A day later, a young man is hacked to death by a gang belonging to another community. As tension grips Dakshina Kannada district, police reinforcements have been sent to keep the situation under control.
A day before the murder of Deepak Rao, two Hindu girls and two Muslim boys were attacked at a theme park on the outskirts of Mangaluru. One of the girls was even assaulted by a man in the presence of the police that reached the spot after a crowd gathered outside the park, on a tip-off from someone in the park that the Hindu girls had come out with Muslim boys. Four persons have been arrested by the police.
On the day the four men, all of whom have since been arrested, allegedly killed Deepak, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal came up with a list of do’s and don’ts for young Hindu girls/women as well as their parents. As part of the “awareness” campaign, the VHP and the Bajrang Dal have issued a “moral” code of conduct.
Here are the Do’s and Don’ts for the young Hindu girls/women. In handbills distributed in Mangaluru, the code has been headlined as:
PRECAUTIONS YOUNG HINDU GIRLS SHOULD TAKE TO PREVENT BECOMING VICTIMS OF LOVE JIHAD
1. Hindu girls should keep a distance from the jihadi Muslim youth who are spread across schools, colleges, offices and other establishments.
2. Do not share personal information on social media like Facebook and WhatsApp. Do not post photos also.
3. If someone offers gifts in the name of love, do not accept the gifts out of even courtesy and regret later.
4. If people are in any kind of trouble, you should approach Hindu organisations.
5. Acquire knowledge of self defence.
6. Beware of Hindu names being used on social media to cheat. If any unknown person sends messages, their background should be found before responding. If you have any doubt, you must immediately inform the family and Hindu organisations.
The task for the parents has been headlined thus:
WHAT SHOULD FAMILIES DO TO STOP OUR DAUGHTERS FROM BEING SACRIFICED
1. Be aware of your daughter’s friends, their religion, their background, address and phone number.
2. Whenever you find time, go to the school, college and enquire about your children.
3. Are your children spending more time on Facebook and WhatsApp than studying? If so, be careful. You must keep track of such children.
4. Have complete information on where our girls are working, who are the owners, what work are they doing, what is the background of colleagues, their religion and phone numbers.
5. If our children are coming late or visit a friend’s house frequently or spend time outside the house, it is a warning bell. Beware. Collect all information of all activities.
6. Make sure that children don’t give the excuse of studying and use the phone to chat. Don’t allow this. Remember the mobile is only an essential instrument. It is not life. It is not the inevitable. You should make children understand this.
7. If children get frequent gifts, the problem is knocking on your door. Then enquire about people who are giving those gifts. If they are expensive, please understand that the problem has become severe.
8. You must keep track of all those people who are involved with your child’s daily life — driver, bus conductor, grocery shop people, fancy stores and, most importantly, the mobile recharge stores people.
9. Let there be a friendly atmosphere in the house. Tell children about the distress that Hindu girls face when they marry people belonging to other religious. Discuss love jihad at home and provide all information about it.
10. If you are aware of any case of love jihad surrounding areas, please give information to the police station and Hindu organisations.
11. Spread awareness about love jihad among friends and family.
12. All leaders of various caste organisations must ensure that their girls don’t fall prey
13. If you get photos/videos of girls who are victims of love jihad, don’t spread them. Please correct them.
14. From their young age, children should be taught about our religion and culture.
So, what’s the purpose of issuing the do’s and don’ts?
Sharan Pumpwel, president of the state Bajrang Dal explained to The Lede: “There are two goals. Who should our Hindu girls be friendly with and fall in love. And, to make parents conscious of what they need to do to ensure that their children do not fall into the trap of love jihad.”
“In just one week, there have been two incidents,” Pumpwel continued. “There is a girl called Priyanka who ran away with a Muslim called Hyder the night before her wedding. She is from Moodabidri. This case goes to the extent of the girl drugging her mother’s fruit juice and running away,” he said.
“The second case is that of Reshma who ran away from home some six months ago after meeting this man on Facebook,’’ he added. Local media had reported this incident with conflicting reports on the marriage breaking up for more than one reason.
“What we are saying is that love jihad is a pre-planned effort of Muslim men to convert Hindus to Islam. This is why we are going from schools, colleges and house to house campaign to make people aware.”
Social activists are furious at the “awareness” campaign. Vidya Dinker, social activist from Mangaluru said – “Who gave them the authority to become security personnel and attackers of young people? Look, we need to distinguish between a love affair, a love marriage and the bogey of love jihad. If there is criminal activity involved, the police will certainly deal with it. These organisations have neither the bandwidth nor the wherewithal to deal with it.”
But despite several years of such moral policing by the fringe right wing groups in coastal Karnataka, boys and girls from among the Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities have continued to mix around and go out.
“It is not defiance. They are leading a life of their own. These organisations have a warped sense of India and its diversity,” said Dinker.