Splainer

Wednesday, June 30 2021


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[He] prided himself on being original, and he scorned that which he was unable to pass off as his own… This inclination often made him reel off, with great ceremony, some very common claims, and recite, pompously, some very trivial maxims. Being full of the good opinion that he had of himself, he esteemed only his own works, and the people who praised him.

That was the biting assessment of a close friend of one of the world’s best-known philosophers John Locke. A newly discovered memoir reveals the great man as a vain, lazy and pompous person who “amused himself with trifling works of wit”, and a plagiarist who “took from others whatever he was able to take.” That’s an astonishing assessment of a thinker who has inarguably shaped the history of Western thought.

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A ‘love jihad’ firestorm in Kashmir

The TLDR: Sikh leaders from Delhi have been leading angry protests in the state, claiming that Sikh women are being kidnapped and forcibly converted by Muslim men. But the evidence in the case that triggered the row is suspiciously weak—and quite frankly, so is the media reporting. Here’s what we could piece together based on the little that is out there.

 

Tell me about this case...

Last week, parents of an eighteen-year-old named Manmeet Kaur filed charges that an as yet unnamed 29-year-old Muslim man had kidnapped their daughter. The man was arrested on Saturday, and Kaur was handed over to her parents. 

 

Point to note: When presented in court to record her statement, Kaur reportedly told the judge that she had married the man of her own free will. And according to the police, she has not converted to Islam. 

 

Umm, so why are Sikh leaders protesting?

Good question. The protests led by local leaders kicked off on Sunday—after the announcement of the arrest—and intensified with the arrival of leaders from Delhi such as Shiromani Akali Dal leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa. The rhetoric also became far more heated. Sirsa declared:

 

“We have been protesting for two days. Four girls have been forcibly converted including an 18-year-old who was married to a middle-aged man and it was said she was married according to her own will.”

 

He also said

 

“We will not tolerate forced nikah and conversions of Sikh daughters living in Kashmir who are forced to marry elderly of different religion. Sikhs living in J&K urge for a law that mandates permission of parents in inter-religion marriages.”

 

And he claimed to have personally spoken to the Home Minister:

 

“Home Minister Amit Shah has assured us about the safety of minority Sikh girls in the valley and that the girls would be soon returned to their families. He has given time to meet the Sikh delegation soon to discuss their concerns."

 

And are there other cases?

The police aren't aware of any. And local Sikh leaders know of only two—and neither qualify as cases of kidnapping or forced conversion. 

 

Case #1: Initial reports claimed that two women had been abducted at gunpoint. And soon after a video clip surfaced—where a woman identifies herself as the other ‘abductee’ Danmeet, and denies any kidnapping. She claims that she chose to convert in 2012 and married her husband in 2014—and yet her husband was arrested earlier this month, and she was handed over to her parents. Danmeet points out that she is “29 year old girl and not a child,” and says: “Don’t bring the religion and minority into it, I know my rights that the Supreme Court of India has given me.”

 

Case #2: Viran Pal Kaur married Manzoor Ahmad Bhat in January, and approached the Jammu and Kashmir High Court seeking protection from harassment from her family—who have lodged a complaint against Bhat in Jammu. The judge ordered the police to ensure that the couple will not be harmed or harassed and “be allowed to live their married life the way they like and protect their rights in terms of the guarantee as enshrined by the Constitution of India.”

 

No one has any clue which fourth case Sirsa is referring to. 

 

Big point to note: Sikh leaders are now demanding an anti-conversion law in J&K similar to that implemented in Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh (explained at length here). It states:

 

“[N]o person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person from one religion to another by use of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, inducement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage; nor shall any person abet or conspire such conversion.”

 

More alarmingly, it places the burden of proof on the accused—in this case, the spouse who allegedly ‘caused’ the conversion, and the woman’s claims about consent have no weight:

 

“Section 12 of the law places the burden of proving that an individual lawfully converted on people who ‘caused’ or ‘facilitated’ the conversion and not on the individual. This means that even if a woman, who has converted from one religion to another, says that she had consented to the conversion, this will not be sufficient. The individual’s partner, who is deemed to have ‘caused’ the conversion, will have to prove the real intention of the conversion.”

 

So this is just political then?

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In today’s edition

Headlines That Matter

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A list of curious facts

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