BJP MLA suggests that child marriage will help end 'love jihad'

Gopal Parmesh

MLA from Agar Malwa in Madhya Pradesh, courted controversy as he publicly stated that parents should get their daughters married early to avoid 'love jihad'.

By love jihad, the BJP, as well as other right-wing organisations of the nation, refer to a concerted strategy by Muslim men to honeytrap Hindu girls in a bid to convert and marry them. "But after the government made 18 the legal marriageable age, our girls started eloping and things like love jihad started", Parmar, 55, said at a function in his constituency to promote skill development.

"The government's intention behind the 18-year bar for marriage is different, but children's marriages were fixed earlier (in childhood) in the villages then they (children) would not take wrong decision thinking that 'my marriage has already been fixed", Parmar said.

When asked how "love jihad" came into this, the BJP MLA said, "It has become evident that some people develop cordial relations with families, show affinity and then exploit women of that family". I am saying that, at least, family elders fix the marriage so that no one is able to trap girls. Marriages were fixed when they used to be of tender age, and did not go astray...or (they did not) think of anyone else. As the girls reach adolescence, their mind starts wandering.

Parmar said earlier the youths were married off at younger ages, which made them "mentally safe".

Linking late marriages to "love jihad" - a term used by Hindutva forces for marriages between Hindu women and Muslim men - the BJP leader said girls are "emotional" and that they "get carried away" when someone offers to help them by changing name and identity. "I urge the mothers to remain vigilant of the love jihad", said Parmar.

He, however, clarified that he did not advise anyone to solemnise weddings before girls turn 18, but only that families should fix marriages before that age.

Mr Parmar's opinions came in the backdrop of some recent so-called "enjoy jihad" case of Kerala.



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