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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Religious conversions and Love marriages among Nair girls in the context of allegations of Love Jihad in Kerala


A few years ago wife of a government official who belongs to an ancient Nair family in Kerala was travelling in a bus from Thiruvananthapuram to a central Travancore town through Main Central Road when she accidentally saw a beggar woman resembling her sister in law by the wayside between Kottarakkara and Adoor.
Her sister in law (Let us call her Mayoora for the sake of narration) had earlier eloped with a trader and the whole family had lost contacts with her. Immediately she asked the driver to stop got down from the bus and returned to the spot where she found Mayoora. After a frantic search she caught hold of the her. Mayoora was wearing a tattered Purdha but her face was not covered. She spoke little and after much persuasion agreed to board a car which her sister in law hired. Mayoora was taken to police station who verified that she was indeed the sister in law of the government’ official’s wife and allowed her to take her home.

Victim of Love
Mayoora was initially admitted to a hospital as she was weak. Eventually she spoke of her plight. She had eloped with a young handsome Muslim guy who introduced himself as a wealthy businessman. He was different from Mayoora’s orthodox father who had always boasted about their glorious past but had little to give her. His wealth was spent for educating two elder children but they gave little in return to their parents or sister. During their days of love the guy introduced her to a gamut of pleasures hitherto forbidden to her. They had secretly met at different places and travelled together in costly cars and bikes. He kindled hopes of a heavenly life in her and one day they eloped.
The first thing he did was to convert her to Islam to facilitate marriage. She was more than willing. Soon she realized what life inside the Purdah means. Her husband was not as rich as she thought. The honeymoon ended and gone were cars. She had to toil day and night in a family in an alien culture where she was mocked for her ignorance. She slowly realized that her husband had other wives also. Here her options were closed. The new religion has no space for revolt. She reconciled to her fate. She was subjected to exploitation and did not remember how she ended up in the street.

Neglect of victim by family
Slowly she recovered at hospital. But she did not realize that a new danger awaits her from her relatives. Her father had died in grief following her elopement. Now she had only her mother to help her and of course a benevolent sister in law. But her two brothers were reluctant to totally accept her back to home as they thought she brought disgrace to the whole family.

Her benevolent sister in law wanted to take her back to home and argued for her but had to retreat following opposition from relatives. Meanwhile her family had received threatening calls from extremists groups which wanted to make her return to husband. Finally her family found a solution regarding her future stay; She was to be rehabilitated at a Woman’s home run by a voluntary organization. The brave girl refused to return with her husband.
This was told to me by her neighbours. This happened in real life and those who told me might have exaggerated a little bit. But incident is real. Similar incidents are reported from several places in Kerala. Recently a report by Kalakaumudi weekly on Love Jihad said from 2009 to 2012 3812 people converted to Islam from Hinduism in Kerala and 1596 are young women. A significant number of converted women were Nairs.
The issue of ‘Love Jihad’ was even taken up by Kerala High Court once which asked Kerala police to investigate it? But Kerala Police gave a report to court that it did not find evidence of organized groups working for Love Jihad? I am not going into the merit of Kerala police investigation. But the issue needs further investigation and why can’t NSS and SNDP press for it?

How to counter love traps?
What is the significance of this incident for Nairs? How should we behave when we find our girls are trapped in Love. First of all let us bring up our daughters making them aware of traditional values. Even then in this free world we cannot insist that our daughter marries only those we suggest. But if we make them aware they would ask their lover
 “Why Should I Convert to Marry My Lover? Why Can’t I Practice My Faith and Love You? Now She Should Ask Herself Why Can’t The Lover Convert to Hinduism? If The Lover Is Genuine I am Sure He Will Be Willing To Convert To Hinduism to marry her. If our daughters love decent educated guys from other religions, we can think of agreeing to their marriage provided they converted to Hindusim and take membership in Nair organizations. This attitude will rattle Jihadis. We need to counter them using their own strategy.
If we find one of our girls who is a victim of Love trap in difficulty take her back to home and accept her fully. She should not be disowned. She needs our care. If we ignore her we will lose one member. That is what extremists and Jihadis want. Discard our pride. We need to protect our women. In early days Namboothiris ousted from home Antharjanams (their women) who were touched by lower castes. This foolish attitude resulted in Namboothiris losing their women and eventually their population decreased. Nairs should not emulate Namboothiris. We need intelligent strategies and organize ourselves to counter attacks against our women.

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