The Supreme Court has been presented with two conflicting versions concerning a 24-year-old Hindu girl who converted to Islam in Kerala.
Her husband, Shafin Jahan, portrays her as an independent and devout woman who converted to Islam on her own volition and much before their wedding. Mr. Jahan has approached the Supreme Court with a request to order the girl’s father to produce her in court.
The other picture of the woman is what her father draws of her. It is that of a helpless victim trapped by a “well-oiled” racket that uses “psychological measures” to indoctrinate people and convert them to Islam. He claims that Jahan is a criminal and his daughter was trapped by a network with connections to Popular Front of India and even the Islamic State (IS).
“My daughter once told me that she wants to do sheep-farming in Syria... even the most liberal of fathers would be shocked to hear this,” he told a Bench of Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar and D.Y. Chandrachud on Friday.
A homeopathy student
The woman was a homeopathy student when she converted to Islam and changed her name.
Mr. Jahan had met her with his family in August 2016 in response to her advertisement on a marriage website. The couple got married last December.
“My daughter once told me that she wants to do sheep-farming in Syria...”
He claims that her father is holding her in illegal confinement after the Kerala High Court, on May 24, “arbitrarily” annulled their marriage, condemning it as “love jihad”.
It is not ‘love jihad’ if an adult Hindu woman, on her own volition, converts to Islam and marries a Muslim man according to Islamic rites, Mr. Jahan had earlier told the Supreme Court, challenging the May 24 decision.
'It's only the tip of the iceberg'
The father, represented by advocate Madhavi Divan, said such conversions and marriages were not rare in Kerala. His daughter’s case was only the tip of the iceberg.
“Radicalisation is rampant in Kerala... There is more here than what meets the eye. Your Lordships should order an independent investigation into each of these people who are behind what happened to my daughter and their affiliations,” Ms. Divan submitted for the father, on Friday.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal and Indira Jaising, along with advocate Haris Beeran, urged the Bench to first order the father to produce his daughter. “Is she still alive? My Lords can interview her and decide the truth... She is not a child,” Mr. Sibal submitted.
“ISIS recruits even children,” Ms. Divan said.
The court issued notice to the Kerala government and asked the National Investigation Agency to participate in the litigation.
“Why does she have three names? Which 24-year-old has three names?” Chief Justice Khehar asked about the girl’s multiple identities.
“Prima facie, the Kerala High Court had interviewed her before deciding to annul the marriage and return the child to her father. In this interview, the High Court judgment records that her answers were incoherent. So prima facie , she seemed to have been in the control of someone else,” Justice Chandrachud observed.
The court gave Ms. Divan a week’s time to place on record all documents necessary to prove the father’s version. Though the court initially said the girl should be produced in the next hearing, it later relented when Ms. Divan’s suggested that the court should first go through the evidence, and if that is found unsatisfactory, summon the girl.