The Mysuru police clarified that the accused and the victim were both Hindus, and dismissed any communal angle in the matter.
While the bogey of “love jihad” propagated by the right-wing in India has been debunked repeatedly, claims accusing Muslim men of feigning love and seducing Hindu women have been surfacing and spreading like wildfire in the country over the last few years. Social media platforms have often been the vehicle for the malicious propaganda involved. Recently one such Twitter post made false claims about the death of an engineering student in Mysuru. The post read, “nother Hindu girl murdered by her 'ashique' Apoorva, BTech final year student was warned by family members several times to stay away from Ashik” and has been shared over a thousand times. The tweet also carried the photos of the victim Apoorva and the accused in the murder case. Similar posts about the incident with communal undertones have been shared on other social media platforms too. According to such posts, 21-year-old Apoorva Shetty died in a private hotel under mysterious circumstances after which her Muslim partner named “Ashik” escaped.
Reportage on the event by regional and local news outlets included no information about any communal angle involved. TV9 Kannada—a regional news channel published a report on the incident on September 1, 2022, According to the report, a young woman staying at a private hotel on Mysuru's Hunsuru Road was found dead died under suspicious circumstances. The suspect in the case was her lover with whom she was sharing the room, and the latter was on the run after allegedly murdering the woman. News18 Kannada identified the victim as an engineering student named Apoorva Shetty. However, none of these reports mentioned the name or religion of the suspect.
Speaking to Logically, a police offical, who did not wish to be named, from Devaraja Police Station (under whose jurisdiction the case falls) confirmed that the suspect in the case is not a Muslim and is named Ashish. “The "accused is Hindu, belonging to Okkaliga community. His full name is Ashish R (Father name: Ravikumar), and he has been charged under Section 302 IPC (murder)", the police official said. The Okkaligas are a Hindu community and hence, the suspect is from the same religion as the victim punching holes in the “love jihad” claims.
"Love Jihad" is a Hindu right-wing conspiracy theory that believes Muslim men seduce Hindu women solely to convert them to Islam. It is a widely used tool for propaganda made popular by polical leaders of the right. Several Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) governed states such as Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and others have passed anti-conversion laws, more commonly referred to as anti- love jihad laws, to check “religious conversion in the name of love”.
According to The Star of Mysore— a local newspaper, while booking the hotel room on August 29, the 26-year-old suspect had told the hotel managment that his name is Ashish and he is from Hinkal village. The newspaper report stated that the woman’s parents had previously fought with Ashish over their relationship, and warned the couple to stay away from each other to which the two youngsters paid little heed. The police had told the media that they are still investigating the case and were yet to uncover a motive.
A right-wing portal called HinduPost was one of the first websites to write on this incident and put a communal spin on it. The portal that described itself as “A media outlet that provides the correct perspective on Hindu issues” on Twitter had on September 7 published a piece on the incident with the headline “Another Grooming jihad murder” Engineering student Apoorva found dead in Mysuru” suggesting an alleged case of love jihad in the case. According to the HinduPost’s initial reporting, the suspect in the case was named “Ashik” and is Muslim. However, one day later the portal clarified that the suspect was called Ashish and changed the original headline removing all references to love jihad and an alleged inter-religion relationship in the article. It maintained that while they made an error in this case, their was an “endles list of cases of love jihad”. It must be noted here that in 2014, the then Union Minister for Home Affairs Rajnath Singh had said that he did not know what love jihad was.
The case involved no communal angle. The police have confirmed the accused name is Ashish, and not Ashik. Both the parties are from the same religion and there was no question of conversion. Therefore, we have marked the claim false.