The influential Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) has approached Prime Minister Narendra Modi to end Muslim 'love jehad' against Buddhist girls in the mountainous region in the Kashmir province.
"In the recent past, Buddhist families and young girls have been lured by the Sunni Muslim community in Zanskar on the pretext of providing free land, money, educational support etc. We are apprehensive that being in minority mission 'Love Jehad' is carried out. Both the state and the Centre should intervene to calm down situation amicably," wrote LBA general secretary Sonam Dawo in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister.
The LBA also alleged that five Buddhist families were converted by Sunni Muslims in last months of 2014. "Such attempts are being committed for past several years. One minor girl was also lured recently and despite an FIR no action was taken. On January 3, another Muslim man lured a girl from Gharkon village, fuelling widespread anger and resentment. The state and the Centre should ensure that the girl be handed to the family," alleged the LBA official.
Talking to Hindustan Times from Kargil district, Zanskar MLA Syed Muhammad Baqir Rizvi refuted the allegations and described the LBA letter "an attempt to divide the region on communal lines."
"The fact is that Muslim and Buddhist students study together and become friends, which many a time ends up in marriages. Neither boy nor girl takes permission from parents in such marriages. Recently, a Muslim girl married a Buddhist in Suru Block as per her wish. How can anyone stop it? How can we construe it a well-thought out ploy," said Rizvi, an independent MLA.
He said no force is used in such inter-community marriages. "We all want to live in communal harmony. Many a time strict caste system within Buddhism sees Buddhist members converting to Islam. According to Indian Constitution, one has right to practise a religion as per his or her wishes.
"The LBA move to write to Modi and seek intervention in very private affair is unconstitutional. How can anybody stop people from choosing his religion or way of life?" asked said Rizvi, adding, "Sunni sect is deliberately used to show as if Shias are in favour of the BJP."
Zanskar, which is around 350 km north-east of Srinagar, is among four assembly segments of Ladakh. In the past too there were reports of the inter-community marriage, fuelling tension in the landlocked region of the Muslim-majority Kargil district. Many a time the families face social boycott and ostracisation for years together for changing their religion.