National News

Hadiya is secure and not being tortured, says National Commission for Women’s acting chairperson

Her rights have not been violated and she is eager to depose before the Supreme Court, Rekha Sharma said.

The National Commission for Women on Monday said that Hadiya, whose religious conversion and marriage to a Muslim man has set off a legal and political storm, is safe and secure at her home in Kerala’s Kottayam district, the Hindustan Times reported.

The commission’s Acting Chairperson Rekha Sharma met Hadiya for about an hour in Vaikom, and denied the reports that she was under house arrest and is being tortured by her father. “She is in good health. She was not beaten up by anyone,” Sharma said.

Sharma added that Hadiya said that she would tell everything in the Supreme Court when she appears before it on November 27. Sharma said the three women police officials at Hadiya’s home were providing protection. “There is no rights violation. She is secure at her home,” Sharma said. “All she wanted was to go out freely...She is eager to depose before the court.”

Sharma added that they did not discuss the case in detail as the matter is sub-judice. However, she added that what happens in Kerala was not “love jihad” but forced conversions and indoctrination. Sharma will submit a report to the Centre within a week.

The commission’s statements were contrary to several activists’ allegations that she was being tortured. Last month, a video had emerged in which Hadiya, who has been confined to her father’s house, said that her life was in danger and that she was being beaten up. “You need to get me out. I will be killed anytime, tomorrow or the day after, I am sure,” she had claimed in the video.

The case

Hadiya, formerly Akhila Ashokan, converted to Islam and married Shafin Jahan in 2016. Acting on a petition filed by Hadiya’s father Ashokan, the Kerala High Court had annulled the marriage in May.

Hadiya’s father had told the court that he felt Muslim organisations planned to take her abroad and make her join the Islamic State group. He also claimed that Jahan was involved in terror activities. The court had ordered Hadiya to be placed under her parents’ custody and she has been in her father’s house ever since.

In August, Jahan moved the Supreme Court against the High Court’s decision. The Supreme Court, however, ordered the National Investigation Agency to look into the case of the woman’s alleged conversion.

Weeks later, Justice Dipak Misra took over as chief justice of India from Justice JS Khehar. On October 3, the new bench, this time led by Misra, changed its stance by questioning the NIA investigation. Misra said the Kerala High Court had no authority to annul the marriage. The court also asked if the father can question the rights of his 24-year-old daughter.

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