Syed Ali Mujtaba
Hindutva is on Prowl! In order to counter the “Love Jihad,” some Hindu groups are taking part in an online plot to seduce Muslim women, which is being called as “Bhagwa Love Trap.”
Even though the evidence of “Bhagwa Love Trap” is scanty, the publicity it has generated on social media has turned heads and led to real-world violence in India.
Videos with the hashtag ‘bhagwalovetrap’ are posted on social media websites where Muslim women’s personal details are revealed and their photographs standing beside Hindu men are used to allege such interfaith relationships.
The accusers have made false allegations about women’s character that were found to be untrue as the pictures were morphed and the personal details were forged but the damage was done.
The “Bhagwa Love Trap” theory suggests that some Hindutva elements are trying to seduce Muslim women and lure them away from their communities. The idea is primarily being pushed to frighten the Muslim community and to keep their girls indoors and not come into social spaces.
This is a conspiracy being played on the online medium and this narrative is being spread on social media. According to a report the phrase “Bhagwa Love Trap” has been used more than 200,000 times since March this year.
A Video of a Muslim girl and Hindu medical students riding a scooter has purportedly been circulated on social media early this May that had led to communal unrest in Madhya Pradesh.
As a result of such similar videos more than 15 confrontations from across India have taken place that follow a similar pattern.
The “Bhagwa Love Trap” theory has mostly been championed on social media, often by anonymous accounts. Videos alleging the theory is real, featuring these and other incidents, have been viewed more than 10 million times on YouTube, Instagram, and X, accompanied by the hashtag #BhagwaLoveTrap.
According to Shoaib Jamai, a media influencer, ‘Hindu youths are being “brainwashed” by the “Hindutva brigade, to lure Muslim women into love traps.” Mr Jamai bases his comments seeing the videos circulating online, that show Hindutva leaders actively encouraging Hindu men to pursue Muslims. He quotes Yogi Adityanath’s words at a political rally in 2007, where the UP CM says; If Muslims “take one Hindu girl,””we should take a hundred Muslim girls”.
It is in recent memory that an open-source app on the Microsoft-owned Github platform called “Bulli Bai” – a derogatory term to describe Muslim women. The app had made a sensation as it had put more than 100 Muslim women ‘on sale’ for a virtual ‘auction.’
Several Indian Muslim journalists were targeted by the app, including Ismat Ara who filed a police complaint and then shared on social media that said the app was “designed to insult Muslim women”.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders described the app as “absolutely chilling” and urged Indian authorities to take action.
The makers of the “Bulli Bai” app after being arrested had confessed that their actions were based on the behest of Hindu right-wing people whom they had acquainted on social media platforms.
A similar app, named ‘Sulli Deals’, also on GitHub, had put nearly 80 Muslim women “for sale” but no arrests were made in this case.