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Kerala 'love jihad' case: SC placing Hadiya under campus protection is pointless; doesn't settle debate on religious freedom

Hadiya is 24 years old. She isn't 16 or 14, she isn't a minor who has been abducted. She is an adult.

It does not matter whether she was born a Hindu or Christian, or that she has now changed her faith. In the eyes of the Indian law, she is no different from an AR Rahman or a Kamala Das. What matters is that she is an adult who now happens to follow the Islam faith.

You may not like it but love is a many splendoured thing and who is anyone to question it? In fact, Hadiya is not under the protection of her parents by any legal fiat and there is no reason why she should not go live with her husband if she so wants. Why all this search and rescue grandstanding?

In fact, not only should she have the freedom of not living with her parents, they should also be placed on notice with a restraining order, or be charged with intimidation.

Hadiya is a 24-year-old adult, not a minor child. Reuters

Hadiya is a 24-year-old adult, not a minor child. Reuters

But ironically, the National Council for Women, which until last week was hissing its indignation over a silly little tweet by Shashi Tharoor playing on the name of Miss World Manushi Chillar, has now done very little to protest the shrieking male chauvinism behind the rage over Hadiya's right to convert her religion, or her right to marry and live with the man she loves.

The Supreme Court has done the right thing in pulling her out of her parents' house, but the only person who has the right to protect, defend and support her is her husband Shafin Jahan, and it is the couple's decision, not the law's, whether she should study for medicine or not.

What if she decides, before her course is over, to stop studying? Is she going against the apex court? Can a court of law supersede the rights of a husband?

There is also confusion about their status as a couple, with Hadiya's father's lawyer claiming there is no marriage. This assertion creates three options: Married, annulled, unmarried. Why was this status not given clarity is inexplicable.

If she says she is married to this man and he says she is his wife, how is it anyone else's business to refute it? Besides, how difficult is it to prove her marital status?

Also, while it sounds salutary to pack her off to hostel with cautions to the college dean and cops to offer her security, one can only hope that it's not exchanging one captivity for another. From being confined to the home of her parents to being under "guard" on campus does not seem like a great blow for freedom.

Then we come to all this witch doctor stuff, and the involvement of hypnotism in her conversion, which is actually why this modern and bizarre spinoff of Romeo and Juliet is making front page news. Since the National Intelligence Agency has come into the mix and suspects a terror link through indoctrination and mindgames, this "transfer" to college is a smart way to keep an eye on the lady.

The latest 100-page report indicates, according to NIA sources, that "there are trained people who use hypnosis to influence vulnerable women". These non-Muslim women are then "drifted off to an altered state of mind where they are made to believe in doing what the counsellors wish".

Is this alteration permanent or does it wear off? Surely, some deeper expertise on this issue is called for but must, ipso facto, be delinked from her marital state? Surely, hypnotism would have been severely dented in the months she was confined to her parents' home, only to be replaced by rage and defiance.

If not for that, all this commotion is unnecessary. She has made a decision and she must live with it. Who is a threat to her? Her parents? Just read them the riot act, there are laws for this in India. Stay away or get locked up. Her husband? He loves her and is walking through hellfire for her so discount him. Her in-laws? Probably wondering who needs this publicity, and if their son couldn't have found himself a nice Muslim girl.

What about some nascent misguided terror group who might want to shut her up so she is not de-hypnotised and spills the beans on the methodology? Or the dean, who has been made responsible for her safety and must be thinking if there isn't any other medical college in India. Some angry Hindutva group who sees this as a blot on their honour? Or some angry Muslim group who sees this as a blot on their honour?

But whatever the threat, the operative sentiment is that Hadiya is in a college room and "ensuring her safety" in this environment is scarcely failsafe. Actually, it is as porous as a slice of Swiss cheese.


Published Date: Nov 28, 2017 15:49 PM | Updated Date: Nov 28, 2017 16:05 PM

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