Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma asserted today that "love jihad" is a "reality" and has been established by the grisly murder of Shraddha Walkar in Delhi. Mr Sarma has earlier spoken of the issue in the context of the murder, insisting that the country needs a strict law against "love jihad" -- a term coined by the right wing to describe many inter-faith relationships.
In an exclusive interview to NDTV today, Mr Sarma -- who joined the BJP in 2015 after 22 years in the Congress -- said that "love jihad is a reality from a national point of view".
"There is evidence of love jihad (in the Walkar case)... even in Aaftab's polygraph test, it is said that he revealed that his actions will take him to jannat (heaven). There are reports on it," Mr Sarma told NDTV.
Mr Sarma had made the assertion earlier as well, telling the Times Now Summit that there was an "element of love jihad" in the murder.
A section of the right wing contends that Muslim boys lure Hindu girls into relationships in a planned manner to ensure their religious conversion.
But in February 2020, the Union Home Ministry had told parliament that the term is not defined under existing laws and no case has been reported by any Central agency -- officially distancing itself from the term.
"That is a question we are asking now to define the term love jihad because we are convinced that love jihad exists even when you conduct a polygraph test," Mr Sarma told NDTV when asked about the discrepancy, citing Aaftab Poonawala's reported comment on jannat.
"Love jihad is very important even for Assam. Love jihad is when love is used with specific purposes in mind and when these purposes are not met, you get cases like Shraddha," he said.
Mr Sarma also insisted that his statement did not have a communal slant. "For you it is a communally-loaded statement, for any left-liberal, it is a communally loaded statement. But for me, this statement was made in national interest," he said.
The horrific killing of 26-year-old Shraddha Walkar and the planned disposal of her body by her boyfriend Aaftab Poonawala has shocked the nation. The matter has become controversial because of the religious divide between the two and the woman's estrangement from her father over the relationship.
Last month, a union minister blamed "educated girls" who leave their parents and opt for live-in relationships, drawing a storm of protests.
Contending that live-in relationships lead to crime, Union minister Kaushal Kishor said, "These incidents are happening with all those girls who are well educated and think they are very frank and have the ability to take decisions about their future".