By Muslim Mirror Special Correspondent
New Delhi: A day before she is set to appear in the Supreme Court in the ‘Love Jihad’ case, Dr Hadiya – formerly Akhila Ashokan who embraced Islam in 2015 and married to a Muslim man Shafin Jahan – reiterated on Saturday night that she converted to Islam “without any pressure” after “studying the religion” for a long time and that she wanted to live with her husband.
“I am a Muslim. I was attracted to Islam by the timely prayers and good character of my roommates when I was pursuing BHMS (Bachelor of Homeopathetic Medicine and Surgery from Sivraj Homoeopathic Medical College in Salem). I began to read Islamic books and finally I embraced the religion of peace and brotherhood on my free wil. Nobody has compelled me to become a Muslim,” the 24-year-old told MuslimMirror after Kerala Bhavan in the national capital on late Saturday night to depose before the apex court on Monday.
“Practicing a religion of and marrying a person of my choice are my fundamental rights guranteed by the Constitution of India and nobody can snatch it. I want justice from the superior court of the country. All I want is to live with my husband whom I have chosen as a life partner,’’ she said in brief conversation as her parents and authorities from Kerala – accomapined her – were allegedly not allowing her to talk to the media.
She further said in a chocking voice that she wants to live a peaceful life and offer namaz (prayers) without any fear and restriction. “I have been under house arrest (since May 26 this year) and being abused when day in and day out. I want to offer namaz as required by my religion. Ask them (the authorities and the court) to free me and let me live a peaceful life with my husband,” she added.
Since May 24, when she was taken to her parent’s house at T V Puram in Kottayam district as per the Kerala High Court’s directive, Hadiya has not stepped outside. She has been under constant police watch, with two women constables always remaining with her.
At least six policemen and an “invisible human chain” of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) allegedly surrounded single-storeyed her house.
No one is allowed to meet her. Trespassing charges were earlier slapped against seven women activists who tried to meet her and give books and gifts.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which was asked by the country’s top court to investigate whether she was converted by fringe groups, told the court in its status report earlier this week that she has denied any pressure to convert to Islam or marry Jahan.
In August, the Supreme Court had directed the NIA to probe the case after Jahan challenged the Kerala High Court’s decision to annul their marriage and give Hadiya’s custody to her father.
In its earlier report to the court, the NIA had claimed there was a “well-oiled machinery working in Kerala” involved in indoctrination and radicalisation of women, and 89 such cases had been reported. It claimed that the court could invoke parental authority even if Hadiya was an adult, as her case suggested that she was radicalised.
Hadiya’s father, K M Ashokan, had also alleged that she had been indoctrinated by radical groups.
The Supreme Court had said it could consider the contention of the NIA and Ashokan, that Hadiya had been indoctrinated and her consent was not free, only after it had talked to her.
Hadiya, the only child of her parents, left her village in 2011, when she was 18, went to Salem in Tamil Nadu to study.
She came in contact with Muslim friends and began to study Islam. She then embraced the religion against the wishes of her family. She had also acquired a formal certificate of the conversion.
A petition was filed in January 2016 in Kerala High Court by her father who alleged that she was forcefully converted to Islam. She changed her name from Akhila to Hadiya in July 2016.
As she denied the charges in the court, the petition was dismissed. She, in an affidavit submitted before the court on January 9, 2016, said she was attracted to Islam by the timely prayers and good character of Jaseena, one of her roommates. She began to read Islamic books and watch videos online.
Hadiya’s father filed a second petition in the High Court the next month allegeing that Muslim outfits were planning to take his daughter abroad to recruit her in Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
In December 2016, Hadiya married to Shafin while the case was being heared. The court annulled the marriage. She appealed in the Supreme Court, which on August 16 ordered the National Investigation Agency – country’s anti-terror agency – to probe into Hadiya’s conversion to Islam and her subsequent marriage.
Hadiya has been confined to her parent’s house since then.
Hadiya studied Class 10 in St Little Teresa’s Girls’ High School in the nearby town of Vaikom. She went to SMSN Higher Secondary School, also in Vaikom, to pursue Class 12. She dreamt to be a homeopathic doctor and therefore, she to Salem, 400 km away from home. She earned the degree of BHMS from Sivraj Homoeopathic Medical College in Salem.