The death of BJP leader Jonali Nath in Assam sent shockwaves across the state. Her body was found near NH-17 in Goalpara district on June 11. A day later, the Assam police’s criminal investigation department arrested Congress politician Hasanur Islam, 28, as the prime accused in Jonali’s murder.
The police said Jonali and Hasanur’s “love affair” led to a feud resulting in the 41-year-old politician’s death. Islam reportedly confessed to the police about their love affair. Assam CID inspector general Debraj Upadhyay told the media that Jonali, who had been married with two daughters, was enraged over Hasanur’s marriage to another woman.
This statement, made at a press briefing on the case, sparked media speculation from all quarters. While the incident is seemingly related to an extramarital affair, RSS mouthpiece Organiser was quick to give it a “love jihad” spin, without any factual basis for it.
Jonali’s husband, Chandra Kumar Nath, also told Newslaundry there is “nothing about love jihad” in connection with his wife’s death.
Yet Organiser went ahead with its claims in a June 13 report titled “Love Jihad in Assam: Congress leader Hasanur Islam killed alleged partner and State BJP leader Jonali Nath”.
It must be noted that Organiser is the first and seemingly the only media publication to link Jonali Nath’s murder to “love jihad”. No local media has reported the incident with such a narrative. More importantly, the police in its press conference made no mention of “love jihad’’.
Assam police spokesperson IGP Prasanta Kumar Bhuyan told Newslaundry, he is not competent to speak on “love jihad” since he did not know its definition. “Whatever has been found in our investigations so far, we have already put it out at our press conference.”
Organiser’s editor Pradful Ketkar did not respond to Newslaundry’s queries on their coverage of Jonali Nath’s murder. This report will be updated if we receive their response.
Husband denies any love affair, ‘love jihad’ angle
But Chandra Kumar Nath was categorical in ruling out a “love jihad” angle.
He blamed the police for holding a press conference in haste, without adequate investigation.
“There is nothing about love jihad,” he said. “She was a BJP leader and the accused belongs to Congress. Their panchayat blocks are also different. So, how could there be love jihad?”
In fact, Chandra denied there being a love affair between his wife and the accused at all. He has now lodged an FIR at Matia police station against IGP Debraj Upadhyay for “misleading the investigations”.
“As a husband, I have complete faith and trust in my wife,” the FIR said. It also demanded that the IGP withdraw his statement over his wife’s alleged love affair, as it had “irreparably damaged the dignity and reputation” of not only him and his wife but also their daughters.
On these allegations, IGP Bhuyan said he didn't want to comment on the matter “as everyone has the right to file an FIR”.
However, speaking to Newslaundry, Chandra emphasised that the police investigation was sketchy and that he cannot accept their version of the reason behind his wife’s murder.
“The police made the statement on the love affair on the basis of the confession of the accused,” he said. “They should have asked me, our neighbours and villagers about her. But without doing any of that, they told the media there was a love affair.”
He added that the media reports on his wife’s alleged love affair, has “murdered me, my daughters, my kin…How would my daughters face people now?”