Love Commandos is a world-famous non-profit organization and charity dedicated to rescuing star-crossed Indian lovers. For the past ten years, using a network of secret safe-houses across India, Love Commandos helped and sheltered thousands of young people seeking to marry outside their caste, religion or clan–and who feared their families might kill them for it.
Love Commandos began its mission on July 7, 2010, the same year a spate of so-called “honor killings” provoked an outcry in the Indian capital “New Delhi”. Mr. Sanjoy Sachdev and his associates had already gained a minor profile for their work as volunteer bodyguards for couples who were being attacked by Hindu fanatics for celebrating Valentine’s Day.
Sanjoy Sachdev, the organization’s chairman, became one of India’s most celebrated activists. Bollywood star Aamir Khan interviewed him on a television show Satyamev Jayate.
Likewise, a world-known tennis player, Bjorn Borg, came forward twice and help his organization dutifully. Even International clothing brand Bjorn Borg, named after the former professional tennis player of the same name, raised money for his group. The photographer Max Pinckers featured Love Commandos and eloped couples in his photobook, “Will They Sing Like Raindrops or Leave Me Thirsty”. The book won the Photographic Museum of Humanity grant.
In 10 years, Love Commandos have saved thousands of couples, says Miriam Lyons, a British director who filmed the organization on and off for five years. “I am in admiration for their work. It is extraordinary what they do”.
Love Commandos is the only Indian National voluntary initiative and network to help LOVEBIRDS and LOVE COUPLES. As Love Commandos’ fame grew, so did the number of young people seeking help. There is no official figure on honor killings in India, but a study has estimated at least 1,300 people are murdered by their families each year for pursuing the kinds of romantic relationships that are a staple of Bollywood blockbusters but off-limits to most young Indians.
In response, Love Commandos opened new shelters. It created a network of safe houses across India. Some days its staff of fewer than 10 people would receive more than 200 calls – including regular death threats. “India is a country of killers of love,” Sachdev told.
Love Commandos is a voluntary non-profit organization in India that helps and protects couples in love from harassment and honor killings. We provide housing, legal aid, and protection to couples who are being persecuted by family and society for wanting to marry outside of their religion or caste. The Love Commandos consists of journalists, businessmen, lawyers, and human rights activists. They protect lovers from religious hardliners. They also run secret shelters for eloped couples, where they can stay until they gain financial independence. They also support willing couples to get married and register their marriage with the civil authorities.
Let’s dive into the interview we had with the Chairman of Love Commandos to know more details about his organization and his team who are risking their own lives to help and protect young lovers from being killed in the name of honor.
Inventiva: What is the Name of Your NGO? Any specific reason for this name?
Sanjoy: It is not NGO, it is NPO (a non-profit organization). It is a world-known NPO named Love Commandos. Love Commandos is a voluntary organization in India committed to helping lovebirds in the world who want to marry for love.
Actually, earlier from the year 2001, we were having a campaign for 15 days in a year. That was around Valentine’s Day, so it was known as valentine’s “Peace Commandos”. In 2010, you may have read various publications worldwide that an incident happened, and we got a call from a journalist colleague that what would be the name of the organization? My colleague world-known figure of love who married his own wife six times, Harsh Malhotra took the phone from me who is our chief coordinator, said earlier it was peace commandos now it will be love commandos. Thus, there was no specific reason, no preparation, no infrastructure. It was started all of a sudden as an initiative and spread all over.
Inventiva: What is the main purpose of your NPO?
Sanjoy: The main purpose of our Love Commandos NPO is to help love couples who are in distress, facing threats of violence, killing, and so on in the name of the so-called honor.
Inventiva: Who is Your Target Audience?
Sanjoy: Our target is the believers of love all over the earth, especially in the Indian subcontinent country as we believe love beyond borders, love is nature.
The young generation is much more suppressed, oppressed, and rather, in these days of the epidemic, they face depression on the issue, because they are unable to approach their love partners. They are unable to settle their love lives; they are unable to marry the person of their choice. So all such youth either male or female from any city or village, from any caste, color, creed, and country are our target that we wish to reach everybody and stand with them, help them on the issue because they are being tortured. We want to help them out of this torture.
Inventiva: Where is your NPO based (city, state, country)?
Sanjoy: We are working all over India as of now and have some volunteers overseas as well. Our organization headquarters is in Delhi. We have state units functioning in 16 states in the country. More are coming up. Almost that we are covering a major part of India.
Inventiva: What are your geographical target areas?
Sanjoy: Love has no geographical area, and the issue of love problem is not limited to a particular area. When we talk about India, the problem is less in the Northeast where love is a culture. But the problem is also taking place there because people from Northern India and Southern India who have gone there have taken this disease with them. It’s like the same that Indians who went to UK, USA, France, Germany, Australia, and other such countries have taken such this disease along with them. Not only Indians, Pakistanis Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans also did the same.
Inventiva: What problems do your NPO face and resolve?
Sanjoy: Definitely, our NPO faces many problems. We are under debts and threats. We are always short of resources because of how so many people, so many couples are a huge thing. It’s a big thing. But anyway, we got support from the journalist community and some believers of love worldwide. We have been able to continue with the support of people who give donations.
Inventiva: What kind of services your NPO provide?
Sanjoy: We help love couples, get married lawfully, get it registered under relevant government rules. We help them in the legal process. We help lovers who are being illegal detention of their parents or family get rescued. We take up legal issues with our legal team. So it differs and depends on each case to case, such as somewhere it is caste, somewhere it is religion, somewhere it is intolerance to love, and somewhere it is some other issues.
Inventiva: Share the idea or story behind your Love Commandos NPO. How did it come to existence? What motivated you to start this unique NPO?
Sanjoy: There was no particular idea. Actually, in 2010, a gentleman came to us with our commando coordinator, Sonu Rangi. Son of that gentleman was in jail on the charges of rape. We went through the file. We were astonished that the girl had given her statement to the medical officer, police, and the magistrate that she was a major and had a consensual relationship with the boy. There was nothing that was forced upon. She was in love with that boy. Now they are happily married, husband and wife having children.
So when we saw the file, we got shocked and then we decided that we should re-approach the court of law to how the boy can be behind the bars when the girl has given her statement. However, the girl’s father had filed a case against the boy, and he was kept in custody. When we reach the court, we came to know that the matter was being transmitted to the sessions for the next day. With the help of our advocate friend, Sanjay Kumar, we filed a bail application at the Sessions Court and got the same for hearing of the case the next day. At the time of the hearing, the advocate was stuck up in traffic where the entire busload of advocates traveling from one court to the other was stuck up. I requested the court to permit me as I know the marriage; the court was kind enough, and I was permitted. I argued, and a boy got bail.
After came out of the court our many advocate friends who were gathered there including Mr. Pardeep Chaudhary, many others and the lawyer who represented the boy asked ourselves a pertinent question, which perhaps led to the organization being what it is today. They said, “You people make noise a few days before Valentine’s Day each year or cry for 15 days a year in the name of lovers, and then we will remain silent”. So many news in the name of honor killings and honor violence of communion. Why don’t you do something for them? Why not take this cause up and work towards it? We said, Yes, we will think. In the evening, we were all sitting and just discussing the proposal given by our advocate friends. When we got a call from our journalist friend, Mr. Rajiv, who also asked the same question. And thus Love Commandos came into existence. Since then, our phones are ringing.
In other words, Formerly known as the ‘Peace Commandos’, who protected young couples on Valentine’s Day from violent activists, they transformed into ‘Love Commandos’ after Sanjoy Sachdev and his team helped free a young man falsely implicated of the rape case.
Inventiva: Who are your biggest competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
Sanjoy: We are the only voluntary initiating working at the national level. We are the only organization spreading in other countries of the world. So, there is no question of competitors being there. However, we feel that the fundamental element, we have to ask people, the proposals of love are the hindrances because they don’t believe in the culture of love. They don’t understand the importance of love. Today the only required thing is Love that can bring peace to the earth. So, that is an issue. There are certain other elements, who have a business influence and interest in this dowry game, our so-called marriage arrangement game whereby they will be selling their products like cars, motorcycles, clothes, and so many jewelry like that. So they are the people who can and who are creating hindrances. But because we believe love is nature, nobody can stop love from being spread in the world.
Inventiva: How did you identify your Co-founder? Tell us something about your team?
Sanjoy: We do not have any co-founder. We have many people in the organization, but we have a six-seven-member core team. My team members are Mr. Harsh Malhotra, chief coordinator, a well-known world figure of love, Mr. Sonu Rangi, Commando Coordinator, a motivator and key person of our team, Mr. Govinda Chand, Delhi State Commando Coordinator, well known as an expert commando in rescues, Mr. Rajesh Malhotra, Delhi State Coordinator, a good organizer, Mr. Sunil Sagar, good coordinator, and Commando Trainer. Thus, Everyone has one own special role. Then we have a legal team and IT team which is headed by Mr. Vinay Sharma. Now, we have all units all over the country, around 10 lakh volunteers in the country. So, like that, how long can I keep on identifying every person?
Inventiva: How did you hire your first team member? What skills do you want in your team?
Sanjoy: We never hire anybody. Everybody is a volunteer. And we want the only quality is the commitment to love, commitment to humanity, commitment to non-violence because we want to shun violence with nonviolent means.
Inventiva: What expansion plans are you looking for in the next 2 years, next 5 years?
Sanjoy: As we are getting calls and messages from countries outside India, especially in the Indian subcontinent, we wish to continue and establish units of love commandos also in other countries where there are a large population of an Indian like UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, and many more such countries. We have some volunteers there, but with the proper shape of the organization, it will take some time. We are expanding and we shall continue like love is always expanding, love commandos non-profit organization is also expanding.
Inventiva: Where do you want to see your NPO in the next 10 years?
Sanjoy: In the upcoming years, we want to see a day when the entire world recognizes and accepts love. When the world comes to the rescue of lovers, when the world understands the importance of love, because love begets Love, Love will get peace on the earth. When there will be peace, then there will be no war, when there will be no war, there will be development, the money being spent on warfare all over the world today will be reduced to much lower or maybe zero. And that money could be used for development all over the world. We want to see a day when everyone will feel love, everyone appreciates the love and there will be no violence.
Inventiva: What are your immediate goals over the next 1, 3, 6, and 12 months?
Sanjoy: There cannot be a goal. In 10 years we could help over 50,000 love couples to get married, settled save, and so on. Thus, there can never be a goal because it is an unending thing. The problem in the Indian subcontinent is too deep-rooted that nobody can set a goal. But yes, our goal is for every day, that hundred 35 crore Indians should become believers of love. They should come to the support of mission love, they can come forward to donate in any way they want because we want the involvement of every Indian in our mission Love commandos. Because it is India that has given the message of world brotherhood. It is India that has given the message of world peace. Thus, we want to see a day when love is only everywhere and nothing else.
Inventiva: Have you raised any funding? Or have any plans for the funding?
Sanjoy: We request each and everyone to come forward and help mission love. People can go to our website www.lovecommandos.org. We need help because such a big mission cannot go without help from all humans. We seek everybody’s help. When we started, from day one, the first cheque we got from a famous news channel Aaj Tak, a second cheque from NDTV and like that the chain continued. Journalists from India and abroad came forward and have helped our mission love. There are believers of love, including a person in Sweden, Eric, and his wife Sara, who have been coming forward to our help. Like that, a world-known tennis player, Bjorn Borg, came forward twice and help us dutifully.
The Internationally awarded documentary maker, Miriam Lyons, has helped us all these more than five years. Only yesterday one of the propagators of mission moon 2024 has donated some money. So there is an unending chain, but still, the resources are less. We need more and more support.
So like that, as we believe love beyond borders, we believe that help for lovers should also continue to be beyond borders. Because these borders are artificial; the heart is common everywhere whether it is an Indian or an American; British or German, everybody has a heart. Whether it is a boy or a girl, everyone has a heart and that heart always looks for love. One may look harsh on one’s face, but in the core inside the deep heart, there is love somewhere with everyone. So everyone who loves should come forward and help Love Commandos.
Inventiva: What were the problems you faced during the starting days?
Sanjoy: The problem in the starting days we faced that we had no infrastructure, we had no money, we had no planning as we started all of a sudden. When news came we started working, we never saw that the problem was so big. But now we understand the problem is so huge. Not only be what it is huge, the problems are still there because we are always short of resources. We are always under threat and that people told us that you will be killed, people told us that you will be kidnapped, people also threaten us in many ways. People attacked us in many manners, people got us firstly obliterate engaging, but nobody stops us to continue our mission, and finally Love commandos NPO stands for helping lovebirds.
Inventiva: What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-working time?
Sanjoy: There is no non-working time as we work 24*7. My hobbies have always been to help humanity. I’m a journalist by profession. So when I have time, I write and publish as I earn my bread and butter from that only.
Inventiva: Whom do you consider your idol or biggest motivator?
Sanjoy: For me, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are idols because they are the first inter-caste love couple on the earth. While Lord Shiva was an Aughar (Scheduled caste of today) and Goddess Parwati was the daughter of a king and Brahmin. Families of both were opposed. There were no love commandos at that time to support them. They accepted both as husband and wife by ascending garland and went to the mountains they’re still being worshipped. It clears that only inter-caste love is great. Seven rounds of sacred fire are taken in Hindu marriages because the loving couple Shiva and Parwati married each other seven times. This lovebird is a role model for the Love Commandos.
Moreover, B. R. Ambedkar is also our motivator, because he gave that constitution to this country which stands to eliminate caste and religious fundamentals, which has given the right of choice to the humans. International Declaration of Human Rights only says that marriage by choice, there is no provision in any law relating to marriage by arrangement. There is a huge unending list of motivators.
Inventiva: What do you feel is the major difference between your NPO Love commandos, self-employed and other organizations?
Sanjoy: There can be people among self-employed who want to work for humanity, who want to contribute something to humanity. But there is another big issue. Some NGOs live solely on government money. Most people run NGOs who need to get government grants and money. But love commandos have never gone with the begging bowl to any government agency to seek money or not taken any financial help from any government agency. Neither shall we go. Because we want to make this mission a moment of the people and the moment of the lovers. The day we go to the government, beg money from them, then we will become their slaves and we have to sing their song, which we don’t want. That is a major difference between love commandos and other organizations.
Inventiva: If you get the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Sanjoy: I think now the ambition of my life is only and only save lovers. And if I get a chance, suppose I become a minister or Prime Minister, then I will first establish National Commission for the protection of lovers right. Then the second thing I will do is to ensure 100 percent of jobs are reserve for the love couples (Intercaste and inter-religious love couples) in government. That will be a way to eliminate social evil because love marriages are an instrument to eradicate the social evil of dowry and domestic violence.
So, we need to have a government system that supports the lovers’ community so that lovers can live freely without any threats. The country shall be full of love. That is my ambition today. If I get a chance, I will do that.
Inventiva: How has been your NPO affected your family & Social life?
Sanjoy: I’m not able to reach my relatives, I’m not able to frequent my club. But even then, sometimes I go because I have friends or colleagues, so I go and enjoy myself with them. But the more socialization I get here, that is from the love couples saved by us who become our children, who called me Baba, who call papa and bhaiya to my team members. So we’ve become a wider social family. And we always remained in touch with thousands of law couples who are settled all over the country. So, Love commandos NPO has not affected our social life as we got more socialization, much more socialization, with this mission.
I’m thankful to families of all members in my core team that everybody has stood during dark, during tough times, during good times. Everybody has been supportive. I got blessings from my mother when she was alive. My father is there to bless me. The mother of Mr. Harsh Malhotra was involved in our work. We got blessings and supports from the mother of Sonu Rangi, mother of Govinda, wife of Sunil Sagar, my wife, Harsh Malhorta’s wife, and Rajesh’s wife. So, everybody, even our children have stood with us. Everyone has supported because they understand the importance of our mission love.
Inventiva: Any message you would like to give our readers or those who want to start this kind of NGO?
Sanjoy: Please come forward and help the mission of love commandos. Love is life. Love is nature. And if you believe in love, please visit www.lovecommandos.org or our Facebook page, Twitter handle, and LinkedIn. Come forward. Let us work together to make a better world, the world full of love and lovers.
Inventiva: Tell us something about your education & family background?
Sanjoy: I had done 12th. I studied in a school in Janakpuri, then Tilak Nagar, and then went to the University where I was a student leader and took part in social-political activities. I had the opportunity of being the advisor or consultant to the government of India with two prime ministers, former prime minister with one I looked after public grievances.
I started my journalistic career. I worked with various publications. And finally, now, with this mission love, my family is well settled. My father is a retired senior government officer, my wife is a housewife. My brother is an engineer. My children are well educated and at very proper reputed positions but I cannot disclose.
Inventiva: Had you done any journalism course?
Sanjoy: When I came to journalism, there was no coursework for that. Mass Communication and other courses came much later. It was a conviction to become a journalist. It was a hard thing to do day and night. Every journalist used to work round the clock exclusively on the stories. At that time, there were no such degrees, there were no institutes to teach for the same, and the journalists of that time to till date are much better.
Inventiva: Any uniqueness of your love commandos NPO, which is different from the other NGOs?
Sanjoy: I already said that other NGOs depend upon government. Most NGOs seek money for them. We don’t go to the government for any door. We have never gone. We will never go. Our organization carrying a name worldwide is not easy and to sustain for 10 years to have such a huge number of love couples is not an easy job and we have shown that if you have commitments, you can do it. You can achieve your goals.
Inventiva: What do you think is the biggest threat to the success of any NGOs, small businesses, or Start-ups today?
Sanjoy: When we think of any start-up or small business, the present scenario, particularly of entry of multinational organizations in the market, is endangering. The concept of Mahatma Gandhi “Laghu Udyog Kutir Udyog” because when you start getting everything from big business houses and that’s one lesser price. Definitely, the labor is also a victim in that. But the purchaser looks at lower prices. If we remember when we were in school, we were taught credibility in the economy. It was that how much credit you get for the material; for your industry and your business. Likewise, with every person, suppose if a person living with a family was able to get a credit from the market for his grocery, and for other things, worth 1000 rupees a month, so his credit was counted as 1000 rupees.
But today with everything going online and almost the credibility of every Indian is at stake. Yes, there is a bigger thing at home, or at the same time, the credibility criteria of each and every Indian is at stake. Then a small startup or small business always tries to compete with the big business houses, which are not possible and able. There are rare exceptions that succeed. We need a policy that reserves some big businesses for the big business houses and let some small businesses Grameen and Kutir Udyog deal for the common people like Gandhi ji thought of the nation.
Inventiva: Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
Sanjoy: Yes, when we started, we estimated to get 200-300 calls in a year. We may help 30-40 people in a year. On the very first day, the number of calls was 7000+. I don’t know from where that courage came, from where that help came, from where that credit came, loans came that helped in establishing love commando successfully. We have been successful in helping over 50,000 love couples in 10 years only. So nature has helped us. Nature has saved us the way. But, success is not complete until and unless we get the joy and happiness to each and every lover on the earth.
We are nobody to measure our success, even nobody on earth can measure own success, but from the core of our heart, we feel whatever we have been able to do is the measurement of success.
Inventiva: Please share the complete name of your NPO, its chairman name, address, phone number, email id & website of Your NPO.
NPO name: Love Commandos
Chairman: Sanjoy Sachdev
Chief Co-ordinator: Harsh Malhotra
Address: New Delhi (For security reasons can’t disclose full address)
Email: [email protected]
Facebook page: lovecommandos.org/fb
Phone:09313784375 & 09313550006