Kerala man in ‘love jihad’ case being heard by SC hopes to get back his wife
Sitting alone in his house in Kerala’s Kollam’s district, 26-year-old Shefin Jahan has pinned all his hopes on the Supreme Court that will take up on Wednesday his plea challenging the Kerala High Court’s verdict annulling his marriage with Akhila Ashokan alias Hadiya.
The case hit national headlines after the Supreme Court directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to study the Kerala police report on Hadiya’s conversion and subsequent allegations of “love jihad” and submit a report.
While annulling their marriage a division bench of the High Court had also made serious observations that a high-level probe was needed to find out whether there was an organised syndicate behind “love jihad” and their suspected role in recruiting youth for the ISIS.
“It is a serious rights violation. Both are adults and married with consent. I am expecting a favourable decision from the highest court of the country,” said Jahan, a Gulf returnee. He claims the police and Hadiya’s parents dragged various theories, including the disappearance of 21 youth from the state, to get the verdict in their favour.
He said Hadiya’s father KM Ashokan (an ex-serviceman) had given an affidavit before the court saying that Jahan was a member of a fundamentalist outfit and involved in three criminal cases.
“Though I was a member of the Popular Front of India, I am not active now. There is only a single case and that too relates to campus politics,” he claims, alleging that an attempt was made to turn it into a terror-related case.
“Two other criminal cases involving a person bearing my name were added to my case. It was a mistake on the part of the police. I have collected all details and sent them to my counsel. I hope our conjugal rights will be restored soon,” he said, adding the disappearance of youth from the state triggered knee-jerk reactions from many quarters. His counsel had opposed the move to entrust the case to NIA inviting criticism from the apex court.
After the high court annulled their marriage on May 24, Hadiya, a homeopathy doctor, was sent to her father’s house. “She is under house arrest. I sent her three letters but they were returned saying recipient was not willing to accept them. I heard she is still practising Islam and was being pressurized to re-convert,” he said.
Jahan claimed that he met Hadiya through a Muslim matrimony site in August last year and they married in December. Later, her father moved a habeas corpus petition and she was subsequently sent to a hostel in Kochi till the court took a final decision.
Hadiya’s father had contended that his only daughter was indoctrinated while pursuing her studies with the intention of sending her to Syria. He claimed that once she told him that she would like to lead a life in desert rearing sheep.
When contacted by HT, Hadiya’s father said he would comment only after the highest court gave its verdict.
Meanwhile, a senior police officer of Kottayam said police were providing round the clock security to Ashokan “It is a very sensitive case. There are more unanswered questions and links than meets the eye. We have given all the details to the NIA,” he said.
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