This Article is From Aug 27, 2014

Love Jihad? BJP's Claims for Uttar Pradesh Don't Add Up

At Meerut College, the oldest in the city, the young women we met say they have never heard about 'love jihad.

Meerut: Using the alleged gang-rape of a Hindu woman in Meerut, the BJP has chosen to give a communal edge to violence against women in Uttar Pradesh, saying in its political resolution that crimes against women are rising, and that the increasing involvement of 'a certain community' (implying Muslims) is a matter of concern.

But it is unclear on what basis the BJP has made that claim, given that the data of violence against women -  a serious problem in UP - is never compiled on the basis of religion of the accused.

What the official data (from the UP police) does tell us is that Meerut range is UP's rape epicentre with 389 cases registered last year, the highest in the state. In 2013, Meerut also clocked 423 dowry cases, also the highest in UP, and 1119 cases of kidnapping of women, the second highest in UP.  

There is nothing to suggest that minorities are responsible for these high numbers.  

NDTV reviewed police data from rape cases in Meerut district from January to August this year - so far there have been 37 cases.  Of these in only seven cases the accused are from the minority community. In all the remaining cases, the accused are from the majority community. Of the total number of accused, 58 are Hindus and 13 are Muslims.

And yet BJP politicians and Hindutva groups have selectively rushed to protest against those cases of violence against women where the accused are Muslims and the victims are Hindus.

We put this to Rajendra Aggarwal, the BJP MP from Meerut, who has been involved in the protests against the alleged Meerut gang-rape. He said that the BJP was not being selective, but only jumped into this case because the state government was going out of its way to protect the Muslim accused. When we asked him if he had ever protested against any of the other rape cases in Meerut, he said yes, but did not give specifics.

At Meerut College, the oldest in the city, the young women we met say they have never heard about 'love jihad', responding to our question with bemused puzzlement.

What they do know is daily harassment, which doesn't come with religious markers. 'Whenever we go out, we face comments from the boys' was the refrain amongst all the women students we spoke to. 'Its not as if the boys are from any one community,' said a student. Almost all agreed that the harassment is getting worse.

The facts suggest the real risk to Hindu women of Meerut, or indeed  UP, are not men of any minority but men in general.