Last month, the NCW chairperson had kicked off a controversy by saying she discussed issues including a “rise in love jihad cases” with Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.

NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma with Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Governor of
NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma with Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Governor of Maharashtra. 

The National Commission for Women (NCW), in response to an RTI application, has said that it maintains no specific data on ‘love jihad’ cases, just about a month after the commission tweeted that its chairperson Rekha Sharma discussed issues including a “rise in love jihad cases” with Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. 

Ashoka University professor Aniket Aga, who shared NCW’s response to the RTI on Twitter, told HuffPost India over e-mail that he filed the RTI on 23 October 2020.

“The NCW is a statutory body and the Governor is a constitutional position. When Rekha Sharma officially met Bhagat Singh Koshyari on 20 October, she discussed ‘rise in love jihad cases’ in Maharashtra, among other issues. If the NCW now claims that it has no data on love jihad cases, on what basis did its Chairperson make the claim?” he said.

Oct 20: National Commission of Women Head @sharmarekha discusses ‘rise in #lovejihad cases’ with Maharashtra Governor.

Nov 11: @NCWIndia#RTI disclosure: NCW has NO DATA on ‘love jihad’.

So @sharmarekha: What is this ‘love jihad’ and what rise in cases? Or are you dreaming?— Aniket Aga (@AgaAniket) November 16, 2020

‘Love jihad’ is a term used by many right-wing activists to describe what they allege is a conspiracy by Muslim men to trick Hindu women into relationships and ultimately religious conversion. Twitter users pointed out last month that the term is both communal and patriarchal, as it completely disregards the woman’s agency in the relationship.

The centre told the Parliament in February that ‘love jihad’ is not defined under the law. “The term ‘Love Jihad’ is not defined under the extant laws. No such case of ‘Love Jihad’ has been reported by any of the Central agencies,” Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said to a question by Congress MP Benny Behanan, according to The Hindu.

Last month, after the NCW announced that Sharma met Koshiyari and discussed “rise in love jihad cases” among other issues, a controversy erupted, with several calling for her resignation. 

Screenshots of her old tweets also began circulating on social media, with some finding her old misogynist and offensive tweets. Sharma, who has a verified Twitter handle, made her account private and claimed that there was “suspicious activity” on her account.