The Execution of Love as a Tool in Ethnic and Religious Cleansing in India (Part 4)


Prof Hoosen Vawda – TRANSCEND Media Service

“Love Jihad”: Deadly, Peace Destroying, New Strategies in Ensuring the Survival of a Political Ideology

The Perceived Conspiracy by Hindus of Muslims trying to Increase their numbers in India.

7 Feb 2022 – There was unusual activity on a railway track near Khanapur[1], which is 26 km from Belagavi.  Khanapur is a panchayat town in Belagavi district, Karnataka, India. A nagar panchayat or ‘town council’, also called a Notified Area Council in India, is a settlement in transition from rural to urban[2] and therefore a form of an urban political unit, comparable to a municipality.

Early on the morning of 29th September 2021, the crows were increasing in numbers in a particular section of the main railway line.  The dogs were also attracted to the area and on the golden sky, as the rays of the sun were tearing through the darkness of the rainy night, a lone, endangered vulture was flying overhead, wanting to sweep on its meal.  The smell of carrion was pervasive in the air, as a Dalit scavenger[3], politely termed “Scheduled Caste”, was walking along the train tracks of the main railway line just outside the station in Khanapur, India, near Belagavi in the State of Karnataka.

As he progressed along the track, with faeces deposited from the passing trains, in the centre of the rails, all along, since the toilets on board these express trains do not have storage tanks, the Dalit encountered a blood trail leading to an amputated foot lying alongside the rails. As he walked further, he noticed another amputated foot and to his horror, he discerned, in the early morning darkness, a decapitated male, human head, which lay about four metres away from the edge of the tracks, as the train transected it from the body and it rolled like a foot-ball following the impact with the multiple and heavy steel wheels of the express train.  The Dalit thought to himself that perhaps an unfortunate humanoid like himself was killed while crossing the track in the middle of the night, or maybe someone committed suicide, for various reasons, as is the customs amongst Hindus in the area.

However, he could not see a body, but his curiosity was soon to turn to angst, as he saw a mangled corpse, without both his feet, lying a few metres away. As he ventured closer to inspect the body, in the hope of finding some valuables, he was shocked to discover that the hands of the body were tied and he realised that this was no suicide, at all, but probably a gangland execution of a traitorous associate or worse a “Love Jihad” execution, or “honour killing’[4], which is also common in this area and is occurring in increasing frequency throughout the sub-peninsula, both in India as well as Pakistan, based on different religions of the fraternising couples, or even parties in interfaith matrimony, belonging mainly to Hindu and Islamic religions.

The Dalit was profoundly disturbed and scurried off to inform his eternal “owner”, a farmer, who alerted the railway Station Master and the authorities,   As the morning sun rose, the wet scene was teaming with Railway Police, as designated in India and investigators were combing the area for any further clues, as well as collecting evidence to the grisly find along the railway tracks, of a male body with his hands tied with string, apparently left on the tracts for certain execution by the passing train.

The Railway Police issued a statement, identifying the deceased as Mr Arbaaz Mulla, a Muslim,  aged 23 who originally hails from Khanapuir but was residing at Azam Nagar, Belagavi on September 28. The distraught mother of Mr Arbaaz Mulla, a car salesperson,  filed a complaint with the police, that since both his hands were tied, this was clearly a case of murder and not suicide, as it was initially being tried to portray, to the public.[5]

Sameer Parishwadi at the spot where he found the body of his cousin Arbaaz Aftab Mulla.

As soon as the horrific discovery was announced, early on the rainy morning, Mr Samir Parishwadi ran along the railroad tracks. As the torches illuminated the rails, he saw a couple of amputated legs, with feet and a few meters away, cut off from the torso, was a head that he immediately recognised, as that of Arbaaz Aftab Mulla[6], his cousin and childhood best friend. Parishwadi turned over his cousin’s body and saw that his hands were tightly bound. “Then I knew it was 100% murder,” he said. “He was tortured and then left on the railway tracks to be brutally murdered.”[7] Wiping his eyes, Parishwadi added, “He did not commit a crime by loving someone, but he paid the highest price.” Mulla, a 24-year-old Muslim man from the south Indian state of Karnataka, was killed on 28th September for allegedly falling in love with a Hindu girl. Police suspect, he was killed by a right-wing organisation due to a interfaith love affair.

The district is known as Sugar Bowl of Karnataka[8] with 150,000 hectares of land being used for commercial sugar cane production[9].  The economy is buoyant, attracting the youth and providing employment opportunities. However, the dreadful discovery of body parts of a young man, strewn along the railway line was far from the pleasant taste of sugar.

Belgaum district has a population of 4,779,661within a total population of India at 1.4 billion in 2022.[10] Belgaum[11] now called Belagavi. is a city in the southwest Indian state of Karnataka[12]. Circled by a moat, the large Belgaum Fort contains centuries-old mosques and the Kamal Basti, a Jain temple. In the city center, the domed, 1950s Mahadev Temple sits in a park. The ancient Kapileshwara Temple[13] is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Northwest is the pink-stone St. Mary’s Church, with carved Gothic arches and a teak-and-marble altar. According to the 2011 census, the population demographics is that the Hinduism is the predominant religion in the district constituting 84.49% of the population. Muslims are the second-largest with 11.06% and Jains are 3.73%.

There is therefore a preponderance of Hindus in this area, who as a group are loyal supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi [14] of India and his Bharatiya Janata Party led National Democratic Alliance which won a landslide victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. The BJP is promoting nationalistic fervor amongst the Hindus by promulgating new legislation and even amending the Constitution of India in the process.   Political rhetoric like “ India is for Hindus” is a frequently uttered mantra at various fiery political rallies, stirring up Hindu nationalism and tensions amongst the peaceful coexistence between Hindus and Muslims since the religious massacres of the Partition in 1948, on both sides.

Regarding the case police sources said that Arbaaz’s body[15] parts were strewn along the tracks, as described and a murder investigation was opened.  In India, interfaith marriages have always been socially stigmatised and resisted by all faiths, as they often require religious conversion.

However, in recent years, with the rise of the Hindu nationalistic Bharatiya Janata Party,[16] since 2014, amorous liaisons and interpersonal relationships, especially between Hindu women and Muslim men, have become a dangerous, often fatal  political flashpoint, due to a discredited but a widespread conspiracy theory known as “love jihad”.  In essence, the BBC series ‘Right Boy’ angered ‘Love Jihad’[17] conspiracy theorists in India.  Jihad is an Arabic term, associated with terrorists and radicalised youth, in a global context.

Every year, over 1,000 interfaith couples approach a Delhi-based support group to seek help against objecting parents on both sides.

Belagavi Police have, since then, arrested at least 10 persons in connection with the horrific murder of Arbaaz over his interfaith relationship.

According to police, the parents of Arbaaz’s girlfriend hired killers after he refused to break up with the woman. The same allegation was made by the victim’s family since his death, according to a report in The News Minute.[18]

Among the accused are Arbaaz’s girlfriend’s parents, Eerappa and mother, Susheela Kumbhar[19] and a member of a Hindu group Sri Ram Sena[20] Hindustan, the publisher of an inflammatory book on the subject, the right-wing outfit member and seven others were reportedly given the contract to kill Arbaaz in Karnataka murder over interfaith relationship. The prime accused Maharaja Nagappa alias Pundalik Mutgekar[21] has reportedly confessed to police about murdering Muslim youth, Arbaaz Mulla for developing an amorous relationship with Eerappa’s daughter, being a born Hindu.

The Radicalising, Murderous Strategy in propagating party politics in India

According to  the perceived conspiracy theory by the Hindu right wing organisations, “Love Jihad or Romeo Jihad” means “a holy war carried out by Muslim males and females using love as a weapon to marry non-Muslim persons in the sub-peninsula.  The rationale behind this is with the sole purpose of converting them to Islam.” Some Hindu civil organisations have claimed that other organisations, mainly Muslims, have provides financial aid and support to individuals, encouraging them to do so. Also, Muslim youngsters, intentionally conceal their religious affiliations and identity to fraternise Hindu girls as Hindus themselves. Once the relationship solidifies and their bonds are emotionally strong, they convince the Hindu girls to convert to Islam and marry them, as Muslims.  It is to be noted that in Islam, a prerequisite to marriage is that the matrimonial union must be between two believers hence the need for conversion to Islam prior to the bond is solemnised as the Nikah[22], in front of specifically appointed representatives from the girl’s party by the Moulana who is the religious leader in the locality.  Islam allows polygamy as long as the parties are endogenous Muslims or secondarily converted to Islam, proclaiming the “Oneness of Allah[23] or God”,, subscribing to the tenets of the Abrahamic faiths. There is no stipulation for a legalised marriage in a court, in Islam, as is practiced in Western countries, while protecting the rights of the female in an Islamic marriage, by ensuring a representative chosen by the bride for the lady to agree to the matrimonial union, in the presence of witnesses from both the parties, under the authorised jurisdiction of the Imam, or religious leader.

The Muslim communities, in India, categorically state that there is no “Love Jihad”, and it is just a conspiracy theory, propagated by Hindus and used as a religious tool to terminate Muslims in interfaith relationships, motivated by nationalistic fervor generated by the BJP Party and its alliance members. However, the Hindus feel absolutely strongly about a conspiracy mounted by Muslims to weaken the Hindu stronghold of India.  They feel that this conspiracy is a genuine threat and have ample evidence to prove its existence as a covert, strategic mechanism to increase the Muslim numbers, on a long-term basis.

A book to be launched by Sree Ram Sena on the venomous and demonic portrayal of Muslims in interfaith relationships in India.  
Note the two visages of the lady: Hinduism and Islam

Around 1,000 Christian and Hindu women in Pakistan are forcibly converted to Islam and married to Muslim men every year, says a report released by Movement for Solidarity and Peace (MSP).[24]  Thus far, the Indian police have not found any clear evidence that Love Jihad actually exists in India, but even if it does, it is hard to prove because it is impossible to know what is in the mind of a Muslim person according to sources. [25]  The conspiracy theorists cite some examples to support their stance.  A Hindu woman was killed by her husband and his friend because she refused to convert to Islam after the marriage.[26]  In another incident in Jharkhand, another woman was gang-raped and killed after she refused to convert.[27]

While “Love Jihad” was a  fringe extremist theory, has now been brought into the political mainstream and, last year, numerous BJP ruled states, including Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, passed legislation to clamp down on conversion for interfaith marriages. The official name of this law is Uttar Pradesh Vidhi Virudh Dharma Samparivartan Pratishedh Adhyadesh-2020. [28] These laws are colloquially known as the “love jihad” laws.  While the legislation covers all religions, over the past year, it has predominately been used to target minorities, as well as emboldening rightwing Hindu vigilante groups to halt interfaith marriage.  In Uttar Pradesh, Muslim men who have attempted to marry consenting Hindu women have been violently attacked, forced into hiding or sent to jail. Of the 208 people arrested under the new anti-conversion law between November 2020 and August 2021, all were Muslim. None have been convicted thus far.[29]

In Delhi, Asif Iqbal, who runs “Dhanak For Humanity”[30], an organisation which assists interfaith couples facing hostility, said he had seen a rise in those seeking help in the past year. Dhanak is a not for profit organization. It does not charge any fees towards its services. It does not facilitate solemnising religious marriages and is a membership-based organization, wherein its members play a crucial role be it as volunteers, as change-makers, or participating in the peer-support and solidarity group.  Dhanak”[31] was established  to assist Hindu and Muslim couples when their families deny them permission to marry. Aged between 20-30 years, the harried men and women want the group to talk to their families or help them seek legal assistance. Among the couples who come to Dhanak, 52% are Hindu women planning to marry Muslim men; and 42% are Muslim women planning to marry Hindu men. “Both Hindu and Muslim families in India fiercely oppose interfaith marriages,” according to Asif Iqbal, founder of Dhanak, “They will stoop to any level to stop them. Parents even smear the reputation of their daughters to dissuade her lover’s family. The so-called ‘love-jihad’ is another weapon to discourage such relationships.” It can even lead to pre-meditated murder by arranging hits on the involved couple, arranged by their respective parents, through willing assassins, for hire, for a fee.

The spectre of “love-jihad”, a term radical Hindu groups use to accuse Muslim men of converting Hindu women by marriage, has returned to haunt India’s interfaith relationships.

Recently, police in northern Uttar Pradesh state held a Muslim man for allegedly trying to convert a Hindu woman to Islam. He was the first to be arrested under a new anti-conversion law that targets love-jihad. At least four other states ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party are planning similar laws. Party spokespersons categorically state that such laws are required to stop “deception, fraud and misrepresentation” by Muslim men to whom Hindu women are easy prey.

“When a Hindu man marries a Muslim woman, it is always portrayed as romance and love by Hindu organisations, while when the reverse happens it is depicted as coercion,” says Professor Charu Gupta, a historian at University of Delhi, who has researched the “myth of love jihad” [32].

In a democratic country like India, the right-wing influences on the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have resulted in changes in the constitution and promulgation of discriminatory laws against freedom of love.  This is reminiscent of the Immorality Act in apartheid South Africa[33], under the White Nationalist government prior to liberation in 1994, led by the first democratically elected, Black President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela.[34]  The laws, in India are also based on preserving the numbers of Hindus in India very much like Adolph Hitler’s policy of racial superiority of the Aryans[35] in Nazi Germany before world War 11.  The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020 referred to as the Love Jihad law by most of the media,[36] is a law enacted by the Government of Uttar Pradesh, India. The Uttar Pradesh state cabinet cleared the ordinance on 24th  November 2020[37] following which it was approved and signed by state Madam Governor Anandiben Patel on 28th November 2020.[38] The law makes religious conversion non-bailable with up to 10 years of jail time if undertaken through misinformation, unlawfully, forcefully, allurement or other allegedly fraudulent means and requires that religious conversions for marriage in Uttar Pradesh to be approved by a district magistrate. The law also encompasses strict action for mass conversion, including cancellation of registration of social organisation involved in mass religious conversion.[39]

The ordinance was passed amid media publicity and heated debate over love jihad.[40]   However, the law itself contains no mention of love jihad.[41] The ordinance was passed days after the Yogi Adityanath government launched ‘Mission Shakti’, a campaign for the safety and security of women in the state.[42]  Numerous experts have described the law as unconstitutional including former Law Commission chairman Justice A. P. Shah and the former Supreme Court judge Madan Lokur.[43] The criticism is largely focused on denying the right to freedom of religion and restricting women’s rights to choose their partner.[44] 104 former bureaucrats have written an open letter to Chief minister Yogi Adityanath, the future Prime Minister of India,  asking him to repeal the law. They alleged that Uttar Pradesh[45] “has become the epicentre of politics of hate, division and bigotry and the institutions of governance are now steeped in communal poison”.[46]  The law is clearly biased as there are reports of Uttar Pradesh police refusing to register cases under the provisions of ‘love jihad law’ when the complainants were Muslim women who converted to Hinduism for marrying Hindu men but later got rejected by their husbands after marriage.[47]

The Bottom Line is that prior to India’s independence, during the British Raj[48], Hindu princely states including Kota[49], Patna, Surguja[50], Udaipur, and Kalahandi[51] passed laws restricting religious conversions “in an attempt to preserve Hindu religious identity against Muslims.” Freedom of religion in India is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 25-28 of the Constitution of India.[52] Modern India came into existence in 1947 and the Indian constitution’s preamble was amended in 1976 to state that India is a secular state.[53] Supreme Court of India ruled that India was already a secular state from the time it adopted its constitution, what actually was done through this amendment is to state explicitly what was earlier contained implicitly under article 25 to 28.[54] Every citizen of India has a right to practice and promote their religion peacefully. However, there have been numerous incidents of religious intolerance that resulted in riots and violence, notably, the 1984 Anti-Sikh Massacre in Delhi[55], 1990 Anti-Hindu riots in Kashmir and Punjab[56], 2002 Gujarat Riots[57] and the 2008 Anti-Christian riots in Odisha[58]. Some perpetrators of the 1984 Anti-Sikh Massacre in Delhi have not been brought to justice despite widespread condemnation.[59]

The present situation in India is indeed a dangerous one, with the rule of the law being transferred to vigilante groups, who proclaim moral policing and harass couples in emotional bonds of sincere love, having their personal lives being destroyed, forever, because of political ideology of the ruling parties.  This religious secularism does not augur well for the future for India as a member of the global democratic community.  For centuries, India has been a diverse and pluralistic country, where the citizens accept differences, respect  and tolerate each other’s beliefs.  This ethos became discordant during the Partition in 1947[60], caused by the British Raj, as an exit “gift” to punish India and once again the ruling junta is causing the religious rift to affect millions of young lives, using religion and love as an ethnic cleansing mechanism, against Muslims in the Hindu dominant India.  While the sad odyssey of Arbaaz Mulla is tragic, the rightwing Hindu fundamentalists literally “cut him into pieces”[61] by transforming India’s “love jihad”  conspiracy theory, into a lethal weapon, against the Muslim, youth deepening the polarisation between Hindus and Muslims, even further, in post-colonial India.








































[38] “Jail term, fine for ‘illegal’ conversions in Uttar Pradesh”. The Hindu. Special Correspondent. 2020-11-24. ISSN 0971-751X



[41] Srivastava, Prashant (2020-11-22). “Draft UP law on ‘love jihad’ proposes 5-yr jail, marriage annulment for ‘forced conversion'”. ThePrint.






















Read: Part 1Part 2Part 3

Professor G. Hoosen M. Vawda (Bsc; MBChB; PhD.Wits) is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment.
Director: Glastonbury Medical Research Centre; Community Health and Indigent Programme Services; Body Donor Foundation SA.

Principal Investigator: Multinational Clinical Trials
Consultant: Medical and General Research Ethics; Internal Medicine and Clinical Psychiatry:UKZN, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine
Executive Member: Inter Religious Council KZN SA
Public Liaison: Medical Misadventures
Activism: Justice for All

Tags: , , , , ,

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 7 Feb 2022.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: The Execution of Love as a Tool in Ethnic and Religious Cleansing in India (Part 4), is included. Thank you.

If you enjoyed this article, please donate to TMS to join the growing list of TMS Supporters.

Share this article:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

Comments are closed.