Hadiya, a 24 years old Homeopathic Medical doctor from Kerala is currently under judicial house arrest by the order of the High Court of the state of Kerala having annulled her marriage to a Muslim man by the name Shafin Jahan.
Kerala, the Indian state with the highest literacy rate and excellent social indicators is also known for its religious harmony producing a cohesive society.
She converted from Hinduism to Islam and changed her name from Akhila to Hadiya during her university days. Later she married a Muslim man after meeting him through a matrimonial site.
Now her case is in the Supreme Court of India which has ordered a probe by the National Investigation Agent (NIA), the country’s top counter-terror agency under the supervision of a former judge. The government is trying to link her conversion to Islam to terrorism and further investigate her marriage in the possibility of her being a victim of the so-called ‘Love Jihad’, a libellous act.
Many legal experts and social activists have opined that Hadiya has been denied her constitutional rights and is a victim of human right violations by the government of India. The Indian constitution guarantees conversion and preaching of any religion as a fundamental right of a citizen. This is not something that has been seen in the case of Hadiya.
Since India’s new right-wing ultra-nationalistic government came into power, traditional secular values started diminishing and intolerance towards religious minorities particularly Muslims and Dalits (a community considered as low caste in the hierarchy) increased.
Today Hadiya is a prisoner in her own house under armed police guard for 24 hours. She is not allowed to see anyone or talk to anyone. So far, only three members of right-wing parties have been allowed to visit her.
One of them took a video in which Hadiya says that she wants to continue to live and die as a Muslim. When women activists went to meet Hadiya, permission was denied but reports say that Hadiya cried out to them for help from behind the bars of a window.
Inter-religion and inter-caste marriage is not a strange practice in Kerala. In her case she did not become Muslim after marriage; she converted much earlier to her marriage to Jahan
There are two valid questions that arise from this incident. Why is she being denied her two constitutionals right to practice any religion and marry any person of her choosing? These questions bear special weight in a state like Kerala which is known for its human rights and liberal values.
Hadiya’s illegal confinement to her home is because she exercised her right as an Indian woman. The silence of the State Women’s Commission and the State Human Rights Commission in a Communist-ruled state projects a gloomy future for the situation of Muslims in the country.
The Indian feminist who cry wolf that Islam oppresses women are now selectively silent in Hadiya’s case.
Hadiya’s story is now being turned into a movie as a Gopal Menon film.