The National Commission for Minorities chief on Wednesday took exception to the term “love jihad”, saying that there was no bar on interfaith marriage with mutual consent of the couple, PTI reported.

“What is love jihad?” Iqbal Singh Lalpura, the minority panel’s chairperson questioned at a press conference on Wednesday. “I have not found this term in any dictionary. I have not seen any complaint on ‘love jihad’ like this by any particular community. I am not the representative or spokesperson of the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party]. Only they [BJP] can tell you [about love jihad].”

He was responding to a question on the BJP’s campaign against “love jihad” in the country. The term is a conspiracy theory espoused by Hindutva activists, claiming that Muslim men lure Hindu women to marry them in order to later convert them to Islam.

Hindutva activists use the term to describe interfaith marriages even as the BJP-led central government told the Lok Sabha in February 2020 that no case of ‘love jihad’ has been reported by any of the central agencies.

Several BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have already enacted anti-conversion laws, citing “love jihad”.

“There is no bar on interfaith marriage if the couple has mutual consent,” Lalpura said on Wednesday, according to PTI..

However, he added that the commission had received some complaints from parents alleging that their children were misled into an interfaith marriage and taken away without their consent. “Many of these claims were later found to be true,” he said.

Such cases are directed to the state to verify and take necessary further action, the commission chief said.

‘Won’t interfere in Delhi demolitions’

The National Commission for Minorities will not interfere in the demolitions carried out by BJP-run civic bodies in Delhi, Lalpura said on Wednesday, while responding to a question on the matter The Hindu reported.

The demolition is not being done as a punishment, but to “improve the existing infrastructure by removing illegal encroachment”, Lalpura said.

Several civil society organisations and activists have alleged that the recent demolition drives carried out by Delhi civic bodies in Muslim-dominated areas were communally and politically motivated.

They have alleged that the use of bulldozers for the demolitions appears to be collective punishment against a vulnerable population, and such demolition drives have been planned only in Muslim-majority areas of the Capital.

On April 20, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation bulldozed shops and homes, mostly owned by Muslims, in the city’s Jahangirpuri area. The demolitions continued for over an hour after the Supreme Court ordered a stay on them.

Several homes were razed just four days after the locality was hit by communal violence. Eight policemen and a civilian were injured after a clash between members of Hindu and Muslim communities during a Hanuman Jayanti procession.

On Wednesday afternoon, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation had carried out a demolition drive in the city’s Tughlakabad area.

South Delhi Mayor Mukesh Suryan on April 25 had said that the municipal corporation will carry out demolition drives in the areas of Shaheen Bagh, Okhla and Tilak Nagar.