The issue of alleged “forced conversion” of girls in Kerala is getting serious, the National Commission for Women’s in-charge Rekha Sharma said today after meeting Hadiya, a 24-year-old woman whose marriage with a Muslim man is at the centre of a nationwide controversy. Sharma met Hadiya at her family home in Vaikom in Kottayam district, a week after the Supreme Court directed her father to produce her before it on November 27. “I just met Akhila – Hadiya. NCW was concerned about her well being. She is in good health, she has not been beaten up or anything, she is eating her food and she was smiling, she was happy,” she said, adding that there were no security issues.
“She said she is willing to go to court. She is waiting for November 27. I am OK. I will talk to the court. That is what she said,” Sharma said. The meeting came amid complaints from various Kerala-based Muslim bodies that the woman’s rights were being violated in the confines of her home.
“Many types of lures, many other threatenings, blackmailing, all types of things are happening. This is not one small thing which we are reading in Delhi… But this is getting serious,” she told reporters here after meeting some other girls who were allegedly forced to convert. Sharma claimed that the girls had told her how they were “manipulated” and how “forced conversions” took place.
They said that boys would take selfies with them and threaten them that the picture would be circulated in social media if they did not agree to marriage or conversion, she claimed. One of the girls who underwent a “very very horrifying” experience was just 17 years old, Sharma said, adding that instead of using ‘Love Jihad’, she would use the term “forced conversion”.
The Kerala High Court had annulled Hadiya’s marriage with Shafin Jahan after her parents argued he was a radicalised person and took her into their custody. In Hadiya’s case, there was no love as such, Sharma claimed. “She had met the man once and spoken to him twice or thrice. Their marriage too was not arranged by the family, but by a third party,” the NCW official said. A Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud last month directed the woman’s father to ensure she is produced on November 27 for an interaction.
The court is hearing an appeal by Jahan, who had challenged the annulement of their marriage by the high court, saying it was an insult to the independence of women in the country. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has informed the court that there was a well-oiled machinery working in the state which is indoctrinating and radicalising society and that 89 cases of similar nature have been reported. Jahan, allegedly a member of radical Islamic outfit Popular Front of India, had on September 20 moved the apex court, seeking recall of its August 16 order directing NIA to probe the case.