The Supreme Court will on Monday continue the hearing in the Kerala convert case. On the last date of hearing, the Supreme Court had asked Hadiya’s father to produce her before it.
A Supreme Court bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, had asked senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing the father of the woman, to ensure she is produced before them to ascertain whether she had married of her own volition.
In a video recorded in August, Kerala woman 24-year-old Hadiya, or Akhila Ashokan, is heard pleading an activist to “get her out” of confinement as she fears that her father might kill her.
The video was released by activist Rahul Eashwar. Hadiya, the woman at the centre of a religious conversion row is currently staying with her parents after a Kerala High Court order. ( View video here)
“Get me out of here. Today or tomorrow, I am going to die. I am sure about this. My father is getting angry, I can make out. He pushes me, stamps at me,” says Hadiya in the video.
ALSO READ: ‘I will be killed anytime’, Kerala convert Hadiya pleads for help in new video
Contrary to her parents’ take, Hadiya, on Saturday, told reporters that her conversion was not by force.
“I am a Muslim. I was not forced. I want to be with my husband,” the 25-year-old woman, wearing a headscarf, shouted as she was being taken inside the airport to board a flight to New Delhi.
ALSO READ: Kerala Convert Case: ‘I am Muslim by choice, I want to live with my husband’, says Hadiya
After meeting the woman and her family in August, Eashwar had released one video excerpt of his conversation earlier and released another in October.
“While I am a Hindu activist, I believe Hadiya’s voice must also be heard”, Eashwar told NDTV. He added that he would be handing over the entire footage to the court.
“Nothing has happened to her so far… so there is no validity to her claims,” the father told NDTV. “I don’t have the time and need to see what Rahul Eashwar says,” he added.
They have been alleging that her marriage was a case of love jihad, or forceful conversion through marriage.
Regarding the case, Hadiya’s father moved a fresh application in the top court on November 21 seeking direction for audio and video recording of the hearing.
Women’s rights activists comprising academicians, authors, women’s collectives and women’s right advocates, have urged Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as well as the State Commission for Women to extend state protection to Hadiya. The activists, including publisher Urvashi Butalia, DU professor Nandini Sundar, JNU professors Ayesha Kidwai and Nivedita Menon, and Suneeta Dhar among others, have sought that “Hadiya be brought under the protection of the state, perhaps in a shelter in consultation with her”.
In May, Kerala High Court declared her marriage to Shafin Jahan as null and void, calling it a case of “love jihad” and directed her to return to the protective custody of her Hindu parents in Kottayam. Outside her house, policemen stand guard round-the-clock to make sure she does.
The high court had gone by her father Ashokan KM’s claim that Shafin Jahan has links to terror-outfits and targeted Hadiya, who the father alleges, was forcefully converted by her friends.
On appeal against this high court verdict by Hadiya’s husband, the Supreme Court bench led by former CJI JS Khehar had initially roped in the anti-terror agency National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the circumstances of the marriage. However, earlier in October, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra questioned the annulment of the marriage by the Kerala High Court in May as well as the NIA probe that was ordered.
The NIA, represented by Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, had said there was a well-oiled machinery working in Kerala that was indoctrinating and radicalising society in the state.
As many as 89 cases of similar nature have been reported from the southern state, the ASG had said.
The NIA has submitted a status report in a sealed cover to the top court in connection with the case.