Eleven of 14 inter-faith marriages in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, involved criminality, but there is no evidence of conspiracy or foreign funding, the Kanpur police have said, contradicting claims about the so-called "love jihad". Over the past months, Chief Ministers of several BJP-ruled states have promised to bring laws to combat "love jihad" -- a term coined by right wing groups claiming that Muslim men enter into relationships with non-Muslim women to forcibly convert them. This, the right wing groups insist, is part of a conspiracy.
So far, Karnataka, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh are among the several states that promised laws against love jihad, despite BJP-led Central government's admission in parliament in February that the term is not defined under existing laws and no such case has been reported by any Central agency.
In Uttar Pradesh, where Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has issued warnings about "last rites" to practitioners of "Love Jihad", 14 cases were under scanner in Kanpur, compiled over the last two years.
The police's latest version appears to contradict on record statements to NDTV just three weeks ago by the head of the Special Investigation Team probing the cases. Half the 14 cases had collapsed, and a final closure report was being filed, the officer had said.
"We compiled the cases of past two years in Kanpur. There were 14 such cases. In some cases, a final report has been filed. Of 14, there are only seven in which we are still investigating," Vikas Pandey, the officer in charge of the cases, had told NDTV. "In those (seven closed cases) we saw there was nothing. The girls knew them. On that basis, final reports have been filed," he added.
Today, Mr Pandey's senior, Kanpur Inspector General of police Mohit Agarwal, told the media that the SIT had found evidence of crime in 11 of the 14 cases they probed.
"They found 11 cases where some crime has been committed and 11 people have been jailed. In three cases, the SIT found the girls were above 18 and said they exercised their free will… In these cases, no action is being taken," Mr Agarwal told the media in Kanpur.
Asked what crime was committed in the 11 cases, Mr Agarwal said in three cases, the men had "given false names to coax the girls and the girls say they found out later these men are from a different religion". There were also cases where the girls were minor, the police said.
The Kanpur police however say they have found no evidence of a conspiracy or an organised effort.
"Four men of the 11 are such who used to speak with each other and they had relations with girls from another religion but so far there is no angle of foreign funding. So far in the SIT inquiry we have found no proof of a conspiracy or that these people did anything in an organized effort but it is certainly true they changed their names and in many cases, they established relations with minor girls," Mr Agarwal told the media.
Two weeks ago, NDTV closely scrutinised three of the 14 cases. In two cases, the women said they were not coerced by their Muslim partners into marriage or conversion. In another case, the neighbours claimed that the boy and girl were in a relationship, before it turned sour.