Communalism

'Withdraw 'Love Jihad' Ordinance': 100 Former Civil Servants Write to UP CM Adityanath

'UP state, once known as the cradle of the Ganga-Jamuna civilisation, has become the epicentre of the politics of hate.'

New Delhi: More than 100 former civil servants have written an open letter to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath, urging him to withdraw the ‘illegal‘ and ‘atrocious’ ordinance his government has brought to supposedly curb ‘love jihad’ cases.

‘Love jihad’ is a term recently given credence in Indian law, and refers to an imaginary concept coined by the Sangh Parivar to refer to a non-existent conspiracy by Muslims to trap Hindu women into conversions through forced marriage.

It has been a month since Uttar Pradesh brought the ordinance which purportedly attempts to punish coercion into religious conversion. There has been a spate of FIRs and dubious arrests since it was brought. Only in two of the cases were women themselves the complainants.

The letter mentions the particularly harrowing incident of Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad district where a 22-year-old Hindu woman miscarried as in the aftermath of her forced stay at a women’s shelter. The woman’s Muslim husband was arrested along with his brother, even though the concerned woman repeatedly said she was an adult and had married of her own volition.

The letter also mentions that the ordinance is an assault upon the freedom of choice and elevates Uttar Pradesh into the status of an authoritarian regime.

The full text of the letter and the list of its signatories are below:

It is with deep disapproval and concern that we, a group of former civil servants, seek to address your government on a matter of overriding importance for the continued unity of our nation. We should like to clarify at the start that we, as a group, have no political affiliation but share a commitment to the idea of India as defined in our Constitution. 

Today we wish to share our anguish at the infamous Moradabad incident, and several similar incidents that have occurred at about the same time in your state. In the Moradabad incident, 22-year-old Rashid and his 25-year-old brother, Saleem, were arrested, to be released only two weeks later when Rashid’s wife, Pinki, gave testimony that she had married him willingly, without any compulsion.

Rashid and Pinki, who married in July, 2020, well before the promulgation of any ordinance on the issue of interfaith marriage, were on their way to have their marriage registered on December 5 when they were accosted by alleged Bajrang Dal men, who accused Rashid of “love jihad”, and took them to the police. Saleem was with them at the time. While Rashid and Saleem were arrested, Pinki was sent to a shelter home.

Also read: An Interfaith Couple Faced Violence, a Miscarriage and Arrest. We Can’t Say ‘No Harm Done’.

Pinki repeatedly told the media, the police and the court right then that she had married Rashid willingly and wanted to live with her husband’s family. The vigilantes who had accosted them brought Pinki’s family to the police station. What is inexcusable is that the police remained mute as the vigilantes harassed and interrogated the innocent couple. Pinki suffered a miscarriage, possibly as a result of the harassment.

Rashid is reported to have said, “I told the Bajrang Dal men my wife is pregnant, but they hurled abuses at us. They dragged us to a police station and called my in-laws. We were then locked up and sent to a quarantine centre. I wasn’t able to meet my wife.” (Rehman & Sinha, The Indian Express, December 20, 2020). Does this not amount to effective murder of an unborn child and is the police force of your State, by their inaction, not complicit in this?

Regrettably this is only one of a series of heinous atrocities committed by your administration against young Indians across Uttar Pradesh (UP), Indians who are simply seeking to live their lives as free citizens of a free country. These atrocities, regardless of the indignation of all Indians devoted to the rule of law, continue unabated. The anti-conversion ordinance of your State is being used as a stick to victimise especially those Indian men who are Muslim and women who dare to exercise their freedom of choice.

While the various High Courts, including the Allahabad High Court, have ruled unequivocally that choosing one’s life partner is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution, the state of UP is blithely undermining that very Constitution.

Also read: Adityanath’s Attack on Inter-Faith Marriages Extends Sangh Parivar Drive to Promote Manu’s Ideals

The vigilantes are acting as a power unto themselves in intimidating innocent Indian citizens. It has become painfully evident that, in recent years, UP state, once known as the cradle of the Ganga-Jamuna civilisation, has become the epicentre of the politics of hate, division and bigotry and that the institutions of governance are now steeped in communal poison. What is worse is that your law enforcement machinery, with the active backing of your government, is playing a role reminiscent of the secret police in authoritarian regimes. You can pose no greater threat to the nation than by turning its own citizens against one another, a conflict that can only serve the country’s enemies. As Chanakya taught us, a crafty politician must sow dissension amongst rivals. Here you are sowing dissensions among our own people.

We, therefore, demand that the illegal ordinance be withdrawn forthwith and those Indians that have suffered from its unconstitutional enforcement be suitably compensated. The policemen who were responsible for allowing this must be called to account under the law, suitably investigated at a senior level of the magistracy and if found to have facilitated the death of the unborn infant, be put to trial under the IPC. Moreover, the entire police force of Uttar Pradesh needs to be trained without delay in respecting the rights of all citizens; and the politicians of UP, including yourself, need to re-educate yourselves about the provisions of the Constitution which you and other lawmakers have sworn to uphold. While our past communications to you give us little reason to expect that your government will take corrective action to uphold the rule of law, we do hope this letter will contribute to mobilising informed public opinion against these developments and that the Courts will take notice and intervene to stem the rot.

SATYAMEVA JAYATE

Anita Agnihotri IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Social Justice Empowerment, GoI
Salahuddin Ahmad IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan
Shafi Alam IPS (Retd.) Former Director General, National Crime Records Bureau, GoI
K. Saleem Ali IPS (Retd.) Former Special Director, CBI, GoI
S.P. Ambrose  IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, GoI
Anand Arni R&AW (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
Vappala Balachandran  IPS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
Gopalan Balagopal  IAS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
Chandrashekhar Balakrishnan  IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Coal, GoI
Rana Banerji IAS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat (R&AW), GoI
T.K. Banerji IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Union Public Service Commission
Sharad Behar IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
Aurobindo Behera IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Odisha
Madhu Bhaduri IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Portugal
Pradip Bhattacharya  IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Development & Planning and Administrative Training Institute, Govt. of West Bengal
Meeran C Borwankar  IPS (Retd.) Former DGP, Bureau of Police Research and Development, GoI
Ravi Budhiraja IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, GoI
Sundar Burra  IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
Rachel Chatterjee IAS (Retd.) Former Special Chief Secretary, Agriculture, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh
Kalyani Chaudhuri  IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
Anna Dani  IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
P.R. Dasgupta IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Food Corporation of India, GoI
Nareshwar Dayal  IFS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs and former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
Pradeep K. Deb IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Deptt. Of Sports, GoI
Nitin Desai IES (Retd.) Former Secretary and Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance, GoI
Keshav Desiraju  IAS (Retd.) Former Health Secretary, GoI
M.G. Devasahayam IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Govt. of Haryana
Sushil Dubey  IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Sweden
A.S. Dulat IPS (Retd.) Former OSD on Kashmir, Prime Minister’s Office, GoI
K.P. Fabian  IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Italy
Prabhu Ghate IAS (Retd.) Former Addl. Director General, Department of Tourism, GoI
Arif Ghauri IRS (Retd.) Former Governance Adviser, DFID, Govt. of the United Kingdom (on deputation)
Gourisankar Ghosh IAS (Retd.) Former Mission Director, National Drinking Water Mission, GoI
Suresh K. Goel IFS (Retd.) Former Director General, Indian Council of Cultural Relations, GoI
S.K. Guha IAS (Retd.) Former Joint Secretary, Department of Women & Child Development, GoI
H.S. Gujral IFoS (Retd.) Former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Govt. of Punjab
Meena Gupta IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI
Ravi Vira Gupta  IAS (Retd.) Former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India
Wajahat Habibullah  IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, GoI and Chief Information Commissioner
Deepa Hari  IRS (Resigned)
Sajjad Hassan  IAS (Retd.) Former Commissioner (Planning), Govt. of Manipur
Rahul Khullar IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
Ajai Kumar  IFoS(Retd.) Former Director, Ministry of Agriculture, GoI
Arun Kumar  IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, GoI
Brijesh Kumar  IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI
Sudhir Kumar IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Central Administrative Tribunal
P.K. Lahiri IAS (Retd.) Former ED, Asian Development Bank & Former Revenue Secretary, GoI
Aloke B. Lal IPS (Retd.) Former Director General (Prosecution), Govt. of Uttarakhand
Subodh Lal IPoS (Resigned) Former Deputy Director General, Ministry of Communications, GoI
B.B. Mahajan IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Deptt. of Food, GoI
P.M.S. Malik  IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Myanmar & Special Secretary, MEA, GoI
Harsh Mander  IAS (Retd.) Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
Amitabh Mathur IPS (Retd.) Former Director, Aviation Research Centre and Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
Aditi Mehta IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan
Shivshankar Menon IFS (Retd.) Former Foreign Secretary and Former National Security Adviser
Sonalini Mirchandani  IFS (Resigned) GoI
Noor Mohammad IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority, Govt. of India
Avinash Mohananey IPS (Retd.) Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Sikkim
Deb Mukharji  IFS (Retd.) Former High Commissioner to Bangladesh and former Ambassador to Nepal
Shiv Shankar Mukherjee IFS (Retd.) Former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
Pranab S. Mukhopadhyay IAS (Retd.) Former Director, Institute of Port Management, GoI
Nagalsamy  IA&AS (Retd.) Former Principal Accountant General, Tamil Nadu & Kerala
T.K.A. Nair IAS (Retd.) Former Adviser to Prime Minister of India
P.G.J. Nampoothiri IPS (Retd.) Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Gujarat
P. Joy Oommen IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Chhattisgarh
Amitabha Pande  IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI
Alok Perti  IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Coal, GoI
R. Poornalingam IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, GoI
Rajesh Prasad IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to the Netherlands
R.M. Premkumar IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
T.R. Raghunandan  IAS (Retd.) Former Joint Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, GoI
N.K. Raghupathy  IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Staff Selection Commission, GoI
V.P. Raja IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission
C. Babu Rajeev IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, GoI
P.V. Ramesh IAS (Retd.) Former Addl. Chief Secretary to the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh
K. Sujatha Rao IAS (Retd.) Former Health Secretary, GoI
M.Y. Rao  IAS (Retd.)
Nirupama Menon Rao IFS (Retd.) Former Foreign Secretary, GoI
Vijaya Latha Reddy IFS (Retd.) Former Deputy National Security Adviser, GoI
Julio Ribeiro  IPS (Retd.) Former Adviser to Governor of Punjab & former Ambassador to Romania
Aruna Roy  IAS (Resigned)
Manabendra N. Roy  IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
Deepak Sanan IAS (Retd.) Former Principal Adviser (AR) to Chief Minister, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh
S. Satyabhama IAS (Retd.) Former Chairperson, National Seeds Corporation, GoI
N.C. Saxena  IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Planning Commission, GoI
A. Selvaraj  IRS (Retd.) Former Chief Commissioner, Income Tax, Chennai, GoI
Ardhendu Sen  IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
Abhijit Sengupta IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI
Aftab Seth  IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Japan
Ashok Kumar Sharma IFoS (Retd.) Former MD, State Forest Development Corporation, Govt. of Gujarat
Ashok Kumar Sharma IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Finland and Estonia
Navrekha Sharma  IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Indonesia
Pravesh Sharma IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
Raju Sharma  IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh
Rashmi Shukla Sharma IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
Ramesh Inder Singh IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Punjab and former Chief Information Commissioner, Punjab
Tirlochan Singh IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, National Commission for Minorities, GoI
Jawhar Sircar  IAS (Retd.)  Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI, & former CEO, Prasar Bharati
A.K. Srivastava IAS (Retd.) Former Administrative Member, Madhya Pradesh Administrative Tribunal
P.S.S. Thomas IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission
Geetha Thoopal IRAS (Retd.) Former General Manager, Metro Railway, Kolkata
Hindal Tyabji IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary rank, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir
Ashok Vajpeyi IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Lalit Kala Akademi
Ramani Venkatesan  IAS (Retd.) Former Director General, YASHADA, Govt. of Maharashtra