Hindu groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal have in recent months stepped up its campaign to act against ‘love jihad’ – ‘rescuing’ women from getting into a relationship with Muslim men.
On Thursday, the Mumbai police arrested a Bajrang Dal activist on charges of kidnapping a Kerala woman, who had allegedly eloped with a Muslim man.
Police arrested Sunil Nagesh Hegde, an auto-rickshaw driver and a resident of Upparpet in Mangaluru, on charges of abduction. This after a complaint was registered by Mumbai resident Iqbal against him.
A few months ago, 23-year-old Reshma VK, a Kerala woman living in Mangaluru had allegedly left her home without informing her family. According to the Bajrang Dal, she had eloped with Iqbal in Mumbai and as a result her parents and family were suffering.
Reshma, however, went missing in Mumbai soon after and it was then that Iqbal approached a Mumbai court with a habeas corpus appeal alleging that the girl was kidnapped.
Based on the complaint, the Mumbai police arrested Sunil on charges of abduction on Thursday.
However, prior to the arrest of the Bajrang Dal activist, Reshma was brought back to Mangaluru, where she is presently living with her parents. In an affidavit dated December 20 and signed by Reshma, she wrote, “I say that on my own wish and will, I am residing along with my parent at the above said address without any undue influence, coercion, pressure from any third-party (sic).”
Meanwhile, citing Reshma’s case, on December 29, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal had written a letter to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman seeking an NIA probe on love jihad activities in coastal Karnataka and Kerala.
This is the latest in a series of similar cases where relationships between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man have been questioned in the past month in and around Dakshina Kannada.
In December, sustained pressure from a right-wing group forced an 18-year old Hindu woman to break off her relationship with a Muslim man in Mangaluru.
Members of Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, ‘counselled’ the woman, alleging that her boyfriend was a drug peddler.
In another incident, Priyanka, a resident of Daregudde near Moodabidri was investigated by police after she went missing on December 9. Hindu groups claimed it was a case of ‘love jihad’ and BJP leaders too jumped in.
In neighbouring Shivamogga district, the parents of a Hindu girl filed a police complaint stating that their daughter who married a Muslim man was ‘missing’. The complaint said that Anusha Hegde married Javed Khan in spite of opposition from her parents after meeting him while pursuing engineering studies at a college in Mysuru.
20-year-old Dhanyashree from Chikkamagaluru committed suicide earlier this month after being harassed for allegedly having a relationship with a Muslim man.
Two Mangaluru women, Madhuri Bolar and Bharathi Prashanth filed police complaints alleging abuse and harassment they were subjected to on social media resulting in the arrest of four men.