The Vishwa Hindu Parishad on Tuesday defended Hindutva leader Balika Saraswati for exhorting men to gift their sisters swords to fight against “love jihad”, The Financial Express reported. “Love jihad” is a term used by Hindutva organisations to allege a conspiracy by Muslim men to marry women from other religions solely to convert them to Islam.

“Your sister ties the rakhi on your wrist. You, in return, gift her clothes, jewellery and sweets,” Saraswati said at the Virat Hindu Samajotsava event in Badiyadukka panchayat area of Kerala’s Kasargod district on April 27. “But along with that, also gift her a sword so that even when a ‘love jihadi’ glances at her, she would be brave enough to behead him and offer it at the feet of Mother India.” The police have booked Saraswati for outraging religious sentiments.

On Tuesday, VHP Joint General Secretary Surendra Kumar Jain told The Financial Express that Saraswati was not an activist of the organisation. But VHP national spokesperson Vinod Bansal said, “When gods and goddess are laced with weapons, our sisters should also be per the law. You see love jihadis roaming free on streets, colleges...everywhere. It is for self-defence.”

Bansal also said there was nothing wrong with inviting Saraswati to the event, which was organised by the VHP and the Bajrang Dal.