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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Muzaffarnagar: Inter-community romance in focus

Manish Chandra Pandey, Hindustan Times  Lucknow, September 13, 2013
First Published: 09:23 IST(13/9/2013) | Last Updated: 15:21 IST(13/9/2013)

Post Muzaffarnagar riots, the saffron hawks are planning to keep a close watch on cross-community romance. They describe the move as part of their efforts to protect the honour of women.

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Without explaining how it is related to cross-community romance (called love jihad in saffron parlance), they cite, as justification, an incident of eveteasing, the subsequent killing of three persons belonging to different communities and the police mishandling of the situation that eventually led to the mahapanchayat on September 7 and the riots.

And, in a new twist, they also say love jihad amounts to men from one community marrying women from another by either faking their identity or purpose.

For the record, the clashes began after several people returning from the Bahu Beti Izzat Bachao mahapanchayat that day were killed.

“Yes, with police indulging in partisan behaviour, we would do whatever it takes to protect the honour of our women,” says a local who was part of the mahapanchayat.

Besides, in what may be an effort to keep the pot boiling with an eye on the Lok Sabha election due next year, the saffron brigade has added the issue of cow slaughter to the ‘honour’ theme and brought in Gujarat chief minister Modi’s name for extra effect.

The result: a cleverly crafted slogan — Desh, bahu aur gai ko bachana hai toh Narendra Modi ko lana hai (Bring Narendra Modi to save the country, women and cows).

Indicating how big a problem eve- teasing has become, a Muzaffarnagar-based journalist says, “Subhash Dube, who was posted the superintendent of police of Muzaffarnagar after the triple murders (he was soon shifted out as well) had reportedly threatened to book eve teasers under the National Security Act (NSA).”

Data is hard to come by to substantiate eve teasing stories.

“That is usually because the police rarely register these cases. On various occasions, people caught and thrashed eve teasers and handed them over to the police. Yet, the police have been mostly kind to them. They usually suggest the victim and their families to keep the matter under wraps on the pretext that registering case would lead to bad publicity for the women,” the journalist says.

As for cow slaughter, Sandeep Pahal, a Meerut-based RTI activist, says: “Incidents of cow slaughter and reports of police inaction or biased action also led to a situation where people were feeling agitated.”

“As per information sought under RTI, the Mathura forensic laboratory confirmed that of the 47 samples of meat sent to the forensic laboratory located in the veterinary university campus in Mathura, 41 turned out to be cow meat. And that’s just a few samples in the last one year itself. Through our efforts, two slaughter houses have been shut down after massive protests in Meerut but there are scores of small and illegal abattoirs that are openly operating here,” he says.

Pahal says 2391 of the 2476 meat samples were of cow meat across the entire western UP region.

Such talk is probably grist to the polarisation mills. That is why an aide of Qadir Rana, the BSP MP from Muzaffarnagar, says, “It’s a clear case of one community versus another now. The damage to the social fabric is irreparable.”

Along with four BJP legislators and a former Congress MP Harendra Malik, Qadir is also among those booked by the police for allegedly inciting violence.

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