Kerala

NIA seeks details on ‘forced conversions’

A protest in Bhopal against alleged ‘love jihad’ cases.  

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has asked the Kerala Police for the details of “alleged forced conversions” at Therbiyathul Islam Sabha in Kozhikode, a religious centre authorised by the Kerala government.

In a status report filed before the Supreme Court and accessed by The Hindu, the NIA said it had sought information on the activities of the Kozhikode-based organisation. It was at this Islamic centre that Akhila Asokan alias Hadiya, a 25-year-old Hindu girl, converted to Islam and later married a Muslim man. Her parents moved the Kerala High Court alleging that she was radicalised and converted to Islam and forcibly married to a Muslim. The court annulled the marriage and Akhila’s husband Shafin Jahan moved the SC, which asked the NIA to investigate the ‘love jihad’ case.

Records examined

The NIA, in its report, also said it had examined several records of the Kerala police and there seemed to be an “organised effort” in the conversion. The probe agency had not been able to question the woman even once. She continues to live under police protection in Kerala. Akhila is a homeopath.

The NIA said, “During the investigation of Crime No 21/2016 of Perinthalmanna police station, Kerala Police has recorded the statement of detenue Akhila Asokan, after she was sent to her parents by Hon’ble High Court of Kerala on May 24, 2017. Akhila has been consistently maintaining that she had decided to convert to Islam on her own and Sainaba and her associates in SDPI/PFI had assisted her in the process and in her subsequent marriage with Shafin Jahan, on her request.”

Retired SC judge R.V. Raveendran who was asked by the SC to supervise the investigation has recused himself from the case.

He recently wrote to the SC saying that he would not be able to guide the NIA investigation as he had to travel abroad for longer durations. An NIA official said they would wait for the SC to appoint another judge before they interact with Akhila.

The NIA has seen similarities between Akhila’s case and that of another Hindu woman Athira Nambiar who also converted to Islam at the same Kozhikode centre. Athira’s parents had moved a habeas corpus petition in the Kerala High Court against the conversion and the court had asked the NIA to probe the matter. The woman returned to her parents.

In both the cases the NIA has named a woman named Sainaba, an activist of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political arm of the Popular Front of India (PFI).

In its report to the SC, the NIA said, “the involvement of Sainaba in luring and influencing Athira Nambiar, the detenue in Habeus Corpus WP (Crl) 235 of 2016 for converting her to Islam with the assistance of her associates in SDPI/PFI and Markaz-ul-Hidaya (Sathya Sarani) during May 2016 when Akhila Asokan was under her custody (as per the directions of the Kerala High Court) reveals that the instant case is not an isolated incident but rather an organised effort.”

The NIA said in its report that Shafin Jahan’s father Shah Jahan had converted from Hinduism to Islam and his mother Rejula was Muslim. The parents separated in 2014. A graduate in Islamic history, Jahan was working as an administrative secretary at a pharmaceutical firm in Oman. He came back to India on November 22, 2016 to get married and was planning to return to Muscat on a fresh visa to take up the job of an administrator at a construction firm. The NIA claimed that Jahan has four criminal cases registered against him but all of them were of a “political nature” as he was an active member of SDPI.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 10:11:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/nia-seeks-details-on-forced-conversions/article19656998.ece

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