Hindu-Nationalists Hold Massive Rally in Mumbai Against "Love Jihad"

On January 29, an umbrella body of several Hindu organizations held a protest rally against "Love Jihad" and religious conversions in Mumbai.

Many Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders attended the rally, including the Mumbai unit president Ashish Shelar, MP Manoj Kotak, MP Gopal Shetty, and the former MP Kirit Somaiya. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde was also seen participating in the rally with several Shiv Sena leaders.

Sakal Hindu Samaj, the umbrella body of Hindu organizations, conducted the Hindu Jan Akrosh Morcha around 10 A.M. from Shivaji Park in Dadar to Kamgar Maidan in Prabhadevi.

According to the reports, Goshamahal Assembly constituency MLA T. Raja Singh was one of the speakers at Kamgar Maidan. He urged the Hindus to boycott goods from Muslim shops and called for lawful actions against "Love Jihad" and religious conversions.

"It is time the Hindu community stands up against the domination by these people. There's anger in the hearts and minds of people…Our sisters and daughters are falling prey to the systematic designs of the other community," said Singh.

Last year in August, Singh allegedly posted a video that contained disparaging remarks about the Islamic prophet and was suspended from the BJP.

"Love Jihad" is an Islamophobic conspiracy theory proposed by Hindutva supporters. It claims that Muslim men forcefully target Hindu women to convert them to Islam using heinous and deceptive means.

"When Hindu women are torn to pieces, the Hindu family and all of us bear this with sadness. These protestors have come out to express this sadness," said Shelar. During the march, he told the reporters that Hindus needed to unite and put aside their political views.

"A specific community grabs land by building places of worship at any vacant plot of land. The citizens of Mumbai are opposed to this," the Mumbai BJP president added.

This is yet another debunked theory called "Land Jihad." According to the idea, Muslims illegally buy homes in areas where Hindus are predominant to take over that locality in a few years.

Love Jihad-related cases are increasing in Mumbai and the nearby areas, Shelar alleged.

Similar rallies were held in more than 20 districts of Maharashtra, including Ahmednagar, Kolhapur, Nagpur, Nanded, Parbhani, and Pune, in the last three months.

Later a petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Friday, seeking to ban the march scheduled on February 5. Petitioner Shaheen Abdullah alleged that hate speech was thrown against the Muslim community at the previous rally.

SG Tushar Mehta was present in the court hearing on Friday, appearing on behalf of the Maharashtra government. He opposed the plea and accused Abdullah of "selectively" taking up issues. He also questioned why Abdullah, a Kerala resident, was concerned about an event in Maharashtra.

"Now, individuals are selectively choosing a subject and coming to this court, saying ban this event in Uttarakhand or Madhya Pradesh or Maharashtra. Can this court be converted into an authority which grants permissions for holding events?" said Mehta.

In response, Advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared on behalf of the petitioner, asserted that grave statements were made at the previous rally. He then urged the court to consider this before granting permission for the event.

He also requested the court to order the police to enforce Section 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, where officers can arrest people to prevent cognizable offenses.

The Supreme Court then granted permission for the event only if it could ensure that no hate speech would be made. A bench of Justices KM Joseph and JB Pardiwala asked the state government to video record the event's entirety and later send the copy to the court.

The court ordered, "We also direct that the officers, in case permission is granted and in case the occasion arises for invoking power under Section 151, it shall be the duty of the officers concerned to invoke the mandate of Section 151."

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