Hyderabad: Moral policing of interfaith couples on the rise?

Hyderabad: Instances of moral policing by youngsters seems to be on the rise, thanks to incendiary videos from right-wing on social media. While Hindutva groups have always ‘cautioned’ Hindu girls/women from befriending Muslim boys/men, the latter, now misguided by other organisations, are taking things into their own hands by thrashing non-Muslim boys if they are seen moving around with Muslim women/girls.

Thanks to religious polarisation, the internet and social media are flooded with ‘Bhagwa Love Trap’ videos, that caution girls against being friends with non- Muslims. However, young Muslim men in Hyderabad seem also have misinterpreted the message (to avoid falling into the alleged Hindutva ‘love traps)’, and have instead taken to moral couples, mainly when the girl/woman is a Muslim.

It has been learnt that a few organizations in Hyderabad are also organising awareness programs to ‘enlighten’ the community about the ‘growing inter-faith friendship’. One such organisation is the ‘Iqra Bismi’ CTI Institute, which is organizing a program on May 20 at Kabutar Khana, Hussaini Alam. The topic is “How to Protect Our Sisters & Daughters from Apostasy In This Perfidy Time?”. Noted Muslim scholars are expected to participate in the event.

Generally speaking as well, videos of moral policing of young Muslim women from other cities in India, wherein inter-faith couples are either chided or assaulted, have also been widely reported. In Hyderabad, intelligence agencies here also noted a slight uptick of such cases, and have reportedly alerted the police, in order to to maintain a vigil.

Areas having multiplexes, cinema halls, eateries and cafeterias close to offices and educational institutions, parks etc., are usually spots for couples to hang around. Fearing attacks on couples could trigger communal skirmishes, agencies have asked the Hyderabad police to be vigilant.

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Hyderabad: Hindu boy beaten in Old City for roaming with Muslim girl

Recent instances in Hyderabad

More recently in Hyderabad, a case was booked at Rein Bazar police station in the Old City. Five Muslim youths were booked by the police for allegedly beating up a Hindu boy for dating a Muslim girl. The police have registered a case of attempt to murder, kidnapping and extortion against the accused persons.

A resident of L B Nagar,  S Karthik, had came to SRT colony at Yakutpura on May 11 to meet his girlfriend in the Old City. However, local youth named Ikram, Mohammed, Nayeem, Sohail and two others reached there and raised objection to the couple meeting in the area, and later picked up a quarrel with them.

The law is clear when it comes to this. Anyone can move around with any person of his/her choice irrespective of their religion, caste, creed, colour, race etc. “Anyone stopping the couples and attacking them can be booked for serious non-bailable criminal offences including spreading hatred or promoting enmity between different groups,” said a noted lawyer on condition of anonymity.

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Hyderabad: Probe on Insta page ‘Jhamunda’ for harassing couples

There have been cases in Moghalpura, Humayunnagar, Dabeerpura, Gopalapuram, Falaknuma and other police stations in Hyderabad wherein youngsters stopped couples and allegedly harassed and assaulted them. Filming of girls going along with any man and uploading the videos on social media also attracts provisions of the IPC and Cyber laws.

Last year, the Hyderabad police also launched a full fledged investigation on the instagram page ‘Jhamunda_official’ for harassing couples. The person using the page has been invading the privacy of youngsters. He was stalking couples specifically to film and upload videos and photos while they are in public spaces. Three cases have been booked against the page. In the videos uploaded by the page, it was evident that young Muslim women were targeted for either having non-Muslim friends or boy friends.

The law enforcement agencies see the spurt of videos on social media platforms of saffron clad men advising youth to befriend Muslim girls or vice versa as an attempt to fan communal trouble in the country. “After viewing the videos people make up their mind against a particular community. On spotting the interfaith couples at public places the youngsters in particular attack them leading to communal trouble,” said a police official.