Allegories of “Love Jihad” and Ghar Vāpasī

Interlocking the Socio-Religious with the Political

  • Charu Gupta
Keywords: conversions, love, desire, Muslims, Hindus


In modern India, the year 2014 was marked by the ascendency of Hindu nationalist forces in politics. At a subterranean level, it was also witness to cries of “love jihad” and ghar vāpasī. “Love jihad” was alleged to be a movement aimed at forcibly converting vulnerable Hindu women to Islam through trickery and marriage and ghar vāpasī was a metaphor deployed by the Hindu Right to prevent religious conversions out of Hinduism and to simultaneously encourage “reconversions.” This essay examines the larger politics behind these aggressive campaigns. It highlights how both these movements were charged with a moral and communal fervor, adopting an unrestrained anti-Christianity and anti- Islam polemic. It argues that such idioms signal the interlocking of the social and the religious with the political. Furthermore, they also reflect the deep-seated anxieties of Hindu Right politics regarding female free will, the subversive potential of love, pliable and ambiguous religious identities, and syncretic socio-religious practices, all of which continue to exist in different forms.


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Author Biography

Charu Gupta

CHARU GUPTA teaches history at the University of Delhi. She is the author of The Gender of Caste: Representing Dalits in Print (Delhi: Permanent Black, India & Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2016) and Sexuality, Obscenity, Community: Women, Muslims and the Hindu Public in Colonial India (Delhi: Permanent Black, 2001 & New York: Palgrave, 2002).

How to Cite
Gupta, C. (2016). Allegories of “Love Jihad” and Ghar Vāpasī: Interlocking the Socio-Religious with the Political. Archiv orientální, 84(2), 291-316.
Research Article