Love Commandos claims to be a voluntary non-profit organization to provide housing, legal aid, and protection to couples seeking their help who are being mistreated by family and society for wanting to marry based solely on mutual attraction and love.
Sanjoy Sachdev, the co-founder, and chairman of Love Commandos, says, “Falling in love carries a strong social stigma in India. Here most marriages are arranged by parents; the matter of love is rarely considered. Love across the barriers of caste, religion, and economic class can be problematic, resulting in violence and occasionally honor killing. The police have been known to refuse protection to such couples, sometimes even siding with parents and arresting the male lovers on false charges of rape.”
He further stated that “No political party has any agenda for protection of lover’s rights; thus, such caste and religious fundamentalists have brought in this word to meet their political aims”.
Chetan Rajhans, National Spokesperson, Sanatan Sanstha, said, “On the website of Love Commandos, an attempt has been made to pretend that it is an organization working to protect lovers from honor killings. In the comment box on their website, it has been shown that a Muslim boy is asking for help to marry a Hindu girl. It has been experienced all over India that Muslim boys are trapping Hindu girls in false love commitments; they also commit to marry them and ruin Hindu girls’ life. Thus, it is quite natural that Hindu parents fear such marriages and oppose their daughters. In such cases, if the Love Commandos organization is protecting such boys, then ultimately, they are promoting ‘Love Jihad’.”
He further stated that “If we think, ‘Love Jihad’ doesn’t exist or call for such resistance, an Honor Killing is nothing but the foolishness. What would be the future of that Hindu girl, who get married through such Jihadi love. Whether their children be Hindu or Muslim? Tomorrow if that girl gets divorced (Talaaq), whether the Love Commando organization is going to provide all the security and survival means to that girl, whether the organization is going to provide mental support to that girl? Organizations should guarantee all these things to Hindu Parents. It seems that Love Commandos is an organization belong to liberal Hindus who are unaware of Islam or Jihadi terror; thus, it is not surprising if such organizations oppose caring Hindus.”
In response to love Jihad issues in India, Sachdeva said, “The word love jihad is as inappropriate as an honor killing. Love is love, and Jihad is a holy war. There is no matching or combinations. As no political party has any agenda for protection of the lover’s rights; thus, such caste and religious fundamentalists have brought in this word to meet their political aims. Love is nature. The only combination of words with love is peace. We believe that love shall rule the world one day.”
Advocate Pratibha Bangera said, “When Graham Bell was inventing the telephone, our country was struggling to abolish Sati. In spite of dancing and posting videos on social media by youngsters even from remote villages, people still marry and divorce with the permission of their elders. It is not just the poor, but even educated and rich people have little to do with understanding the needs of their partner or being available for their children and family. Be it marriage or divorce; there is a sense of fear of defying society even in metro cities and educated families of India. Even the government is scared of abolishing customary religious laws. Love has become rare these days. And love in marriages is even more remote. Family shaming and honor killing will not stop unless someone like Rajaram Mohan Roy is born in modern India. We need someone whom we can look upon. People need a common cause to revolutionize and bring reforms. Everyone is far too caught up with small things and survival”.
A farmer and political worker Ram Prabhat Singh from, Meerut said, “Love Commandos carries a slogan (प्यार करना पाप नहीं, विरोधी हमारा बाप नहीं) to love is not sin and who so ever oppose love is not our father”, agree these parents cannot be anything to you, but in what capacity and authority you are trading your agendas?? The organization claims to have journalists, businessmen, lawyers, and human rights activists on their panel. They keep couples’ in secret shelters; how can we guarantee the girl’s dignity? Meanwhile, the co-founder of Sanjoy Sachdeva was arrested for extortion in 2019. How can one trust this man? Sachdeva was interviewed on Aamir Khan’s television show Satyamev Jayate. After his appearance on the show, the organization got publicity. But, Hakim Abdul, who appeared in the same episode with his wife, was murdered five months later in November 2012 in Bulandshahr village in western Uttar Pradesh, did they find out who killed them?”.
“When a person takes up such crusade like standing against family atrocities and protect the couple to live with their choices, in such scenario cases can be framed to defame the person or damage his reputation”. The same might have happened in case of Sanjog Sachdeva.” We all missing an important question here is that why grown-up adults have no right to choose their partners?”, said Deepak Gazipur a student activist.
Here are the excerpts from the interview of Sanjoy Sachdev, founder of Love Commandos with our Editor-in-Chief Dr. Vaidehi:
If a young adult can choose the prime minister of the country, why not his life partner? – Sanjoy Sachdev
The Love Commandos, an NGO set up by Sanjoy Sachdev and Harsh Malhotra in 2010. They claim to be defensive towards young couples who are ill-treated by families and societies for being in love with their choices. This non-profit organization helps such couples with shelter, food, and in some cases helping to arrange marriages. Harsh Malhotra, a travel agent and one of the founders of the group, was assaulted when he went to his future wife’s family, and later, they absconded. He is now an interior designer and the chief coordinator of the group.
Sanjoy Sachdev the founder and chairman of Love Commandos spoke to our editor Dr. Vaidehi and shared his empathies.
What has inspired you to start this NGO?
We started this group as Peace Commandos, to protect lovers from religious extremist groups during occasions like Valentine’s Day. Later on, we decided to rename the group, and concentrate on protecting lovers and on the issue of honor killing. In 2010, Love Commando was formed after a man was arrested on statutory rape charges. Even though the woman went on record that she was an adult and the relationship was consensual, the police decided to attest to the father’s statement that she was a minor.
How do you identify the victim?
As a matter of our policy given at the Terms page on our website www.lovecommandos.org, the intending couples have to email scanned copies of their age and address proofs. Our legal team verifies these. Our volunteers spread all over the country secretly check the facts to ensure that it is a genuine love couple and none in the guise is attempting to reach us to attack or harm other couples.
How long will you give protection to these couples?
Length is depending upon circumstances and threat perception in each case. The longest staying time for a couple was 14 months. It can be furthermore in the future if the threat is looming for longer periods.
Your Volunteers don’t get attacked for doing so?
Many want to destroy us, the caste councils and clan councils (Khap Panchayats) have put huge bounties on our heads but that doesn’t bother us much. From the past one year, we are taking more precautions as we have divided our work station from the base shelter. This guarantees safety to couples, and we can deal with the attackers too.
Your website says you support the couple irrespective of any religion, caste, creed. What is your take on LOVE JIHAD?
The word love jihad is as inappropriate as an honor killing. Love is love and Jihad is a holy war. There is no matching or combinations. As no political party has any agenda for protection of lover’s rights thus such caste and religious fundamentalists have brought in this word to meet their political aims. Love is nature. The only combination of words with Love is peace. We believe that Love shall rule the world one day.
What if the couple is not in a position to mail you the scanned copies and just manage to drop the call?
These documents are lawfully needed. Many times, the couples click photos and email or WhatsApp. Many times, on getting their call and location our nearby volunteers rushed. In some cases, we sought help from state police chiefs, and generally, it came. We had to take quick decisions in each case
Have you protected couples from different religious beliefs?
Yes, we have and are protecting inter-religious Love couples. Our lives are always at risk from both sides. We feel that Love has no religion, our thought is Love beyond borders. We feel that religious fundamentalism is a danger for our secular democracy. The only way to eradicate this social evil of religious and caste fundamentalism is to promote marriages by Love or choice and ban marriages by arrangement. We do not agree that this arranged marriage is tradition, making an arrangement that means forcing marriage upon one. And forced marriage is an international crime.