Members of a Hindutva group checked markets in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar city to ensure that Muslim male make-up artists do not apply mehendi or henna on Hindu women, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.
Heavy security has been deployed at public places after this, Superintendent of Police Aprit Vijayvargia told the newspaper. The police have also filed a first information report in the case, though it is unclear who has been named in it.
The incident took place on Tuesday, ahead of the Hindu festival Teej. It was celebrated on Wednesday A purported video of the incident showed members of the group, Kranti Sena, asking shopkeepers at a market whether they had arrangements for applying henna. Scroll.in cannot independently verify the authenticity of the video.
The video then cut to Manoj Saini, the Kranti Sena general secretary, according to The Times of India. “Kranti Sena had declared that on the occasion of Haryali Teej [on Wednesday], Muslim artists won’t be allowed to apply mehendi [henna] on the hands of Hindu women,” he said in the video.
Saini said that the group checked several markets in the city. “We didn’t find any Muslim youth applying henna on the hands of a Hindu customer,” he said. “We questioned the mehendi artists who were there, but they were all Hindu.”
The man added: “Earlier, Muslim artists used to apply mehendi to Hindu customers at beauty parlours. We believe this is love jihad.”
Love jihad is pejorative phrase coined by the right-wing groups to push the conspiracy theory that Muslim men charm Hindu women into marrying them with the sole purpose of converting them to Islam.
Saini said his group had also asked shop owners not to employ Muslim make-up artists and hairdressers.
“How can we employ people on the basis of their religion?” a shopkeeper told The Times of India. “Besides, the customers that come to us have never asked about the faith of our staff.”