Kerala love jihad: Hadiya's father denies charges after Rahul Easwar releases video claiming she is tortured

Thiruvananthapuram: A new video showing 24-year-old Hadiya pleading for freedom from her parents has fuelled the raging controversy over love jihad in Kerala.

In the video, the girl, who converted from Hinduism to Islam, is speaking about a threat to her life from her father. The video was released by social activist Rahul Easwar just before the hearing in the Supreme Court on her marriage with a Muslim man.

 Kerala love jihad: Hadiyas father denies charges after Rahul Easwar releases video claiming she is tortured

File photo of Hadiya, formerly Akhila Ashokan. Image courtesy Firstpost Hindi

Hadiya — Akhila before her conversion — has been confined to her house at Vaikom for the last four months after the Kerala High Court annulled her marriage. Easwar said that she had revealed the threat she perceived from her father when he visited her on 17 August.

Hadiya is heard saying in the video made available to Firstpost, "You have to get me out fast. I am sure I will be killed tomorrow or day after. My father is getting angry, I know. When I walk, he is pushing and kicking me."

Easwar, the grandson of famed Sabarimala hill shrine supreme priest, told Firstpost that he had released the video in order to get the Supreme Court's attention to Hadiya's plight. The apex court is hearing a petition filed by her husband Shafin Jehan against the high court order.

In its hearing on 3 October, the court had questioned the lower court's order as well as its own earlier direction to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to investigate the case. Easwar said that he will file an application for impleading in the case when the apex court takes it up on 30 October for hearing.

Though Hadiya was provided police protection on the direction of the court, Easwar does not think she is safe in her home. He said that a documentary maker who visited her recently had told him that her parents had injected her a suspicious substance.

"I have not confirmed the statement of Gopal Menon, the filmmaker. However, I have a feeling that this could be true in the light of the revelations she made to me when I visited her during August. She told me that she was beaten up by her father several times," he said.

Easwar said that the video in his possession had visuals of the torture she had faced in her house. He said that he had not released them as it has communal overtones. He said that he will produce it before the court. Easwar had earlier lodged complaints with Kerala State Women’s Commission and Human Rights Commission against the human rights violations faced by Hadiya.

Hadiya's father Ashokan KM has dismissed the charges. He was quoted by NDTV as saying that the fact that nothing had happened to Hadiya so far was proof enough that her claims were not valid. He dismissed Easwar's allegations saying that he didn’t have the time and there is no need for him to comment on what Easwar says.

However, Hindu Aikyavedi president KP Sasikala termed mysterious the release of the video shot in August just four days before the consideration of the case in the apex court.

"I don’t know the real motive of the activist. Hadiya is under 24-hour police protection. She is safe in her home. I have met her parents. They are concerned about their daughter. Easwar does not understand the care the parents give to their children," Sasikala said.

She said that Hadiya's parents were not worried about their daughter's marriage with a Muslim man but concerned about her radicalisation. They fear that she might join some extremist groups. Many such radicalised persons have crossed the borders, Sasikala said adding that even many Muslim families in Kerala are concerned about this.

The Hindu Aikyavedi leader said Muslim radical groups were luring youngsters from other religion by feigning love. She pointed out that among 21 persons from Kasargod and Palakkad who crossed over to Afghanistan to join the Islamic State last year were five Christian converts.

"We are not against inter-faith marriages. But what is happening behind inter-faith marriages in Kerala is forced conversions and radicalisation. This is a major threat to the society that everyone need to be concerned," she said.

Sasikala said the phenomenon had instilled fear in the minds of Hindu parents. Many of them are marrying off their children at an early age. The average marriage age of Hindu girls earlier was 23 but now it is 20. This is a clear indication of the fear that Hindus feel, she said.

Inter-faith marriages have been common in Kerala for a long time. None had opposed them in the past since different communities have been living in harmony in the state. But it turned controversial after the Sangh Parivar and a section of the Church started opposing it terming such marriages as love jihad.

It was stirred up in 2009 when a Malayalam daily claimed that an Islamic organisation called Love Jihad was luring young Hindu and Christian women marrying Muslim men. While the Vishwa Hindu Parishad responded to it by setting up a love jihad helpline, the Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference of India (KCBC) by launching a massive awareness campaign among the Christians.

The state police are still not ready to confirm the prevalence of love jihad. Director General of Police (DGP) Loknath Behera said they did not have enough data to confirm the existence of love jihad. However, the police furnished a list of around 90 cases of forced conversions and alleged luring of women into marriages to the NIA after Supreme Court directed the agency to investigate cases of love jihad in the state.

The NIA preliminary investigation has reportedly revealed the role of radical Muslim outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) and its political arm Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) in 23 such cases. The probe found that the two had a common link in the indoctrination and luring of Hadiya as well as two other Hindu girls.

Sainaba, chief of SDPI women's wing was the chief motivator for the conversion of Hadiya and Athira Nambiar from Palakkad. The Supreme Court had ordered the NIA investigation based on these two cases.

PFI has denied any forced conversion, citing Akhila's statement that she had embraced Islam out of her own free will. "Akhila was drawn to Islam after watching her college friends. Sainaba only helped her realise her wish to pursue Islam," PFI public relations secretary Shafiq Rehman said.

Besides PFI and SDPI, another self-styled fundamentalist group called Dawa Squad is also active in converting youngers to Islam, according to The New Indian Express. The English daily said that a police confidential report had warned against the activities of the squad, which mainly focus on Ezhava youths.

According to the report compiled by the state police, 23 young professionals were converted to Islam in Thrissur district and 139 in nearby Palakkad district in the last two years. The report, which presents a case study of a dozen conversion incidents in north Kerala, says the maximum conversions were taking place in Kannur, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad and Thrissur.

The report quoted the state police chief as saying that radicalisation through conversion using various means was taking place in the state. "We have formed specialised teams to track the related developments in an integrated manner," Behera said.

The report also warned that the situation was fuelling communal tension between Hindus and Muslims as the Dawa Squad was hatching plots to antagonise Hindu groups. The Sangh Parivar has already entered the scene with its campaign against love jihad.

Love jihad was one of the chief slogans of the Janaraksha Yatra that the Bharatiya Janata Party organised earlier this month in its bid to make inroads into Kerala.

Updated Date: Oct 27, 2017 20:55:17 IST