An influential body of Christian bishops has raised concern over rising cases of "love jihad" in Kerala, alleging that it is putting "societal peace" at risk.
"It is a matter of concern that 'love jihad' is on the rise in Kerala, posing danger to secular harmony and societal peace in the state," the Syro Malabar Synod in Kochi said in a press statement today, claiming that Christian women were being killed and used for terrorist activities by extremist elements.
"According to what police have said, half of the 21 Indians who joined ISIS were Christian converts.
It is a serious matter that many who are not in the official records are being converted and used for terrorist activities. These statistics show that 'love jihad' is not imaginary," the synod, chaired by Cardinal George Alencherry, said.
The bishops also claimed that there have been complaints of Christian women being lured into relationships by extremists and later forced to convert. "It is sad that the police have not acted with caution in such cases," the press statement read.
Soon after the release emerged, senior BJP leader Kummanam Rajasekharan accused the Kerala police of "hiding facts" to benefit a particular community. "We have been raising the issue of love jihad from the very beginning. Now, a strong group from Christian community, the top bishops of the Church, have warned the church against love Jihad and forced conversions. Their concern is genuine. The Kerala government and the Director General of Police should place facts before the people on what action they have taken," he said.
Kerala Minister Thomas Isaac termed the statement by the Syro Malabar Synod as baseless. "These allegations have no factual basis. There have been many such allegations in the past, but government investigations found no basis in these allegations. If there are concrete cases or allegations, they will definitely be looked into. But the Kerala government does not believe that there is any basis for such generalisation," he told mediapersons.
"Love jihad" is a controversial theory floated by right-wing activists, wherein Muslim men are accused of targeting women belonging to other communities with the intention of converting or radicalising them. None of these allegations, however, have been proven in a court of law.