Hadiya alias Akhila Ashokan, a student from Kerala, converted to Islam and married a Muslim, Shafin Jehan.
In May 2017, Hadiya’s marriage was annulled by the High Court of Kerala on the grounds of a report submitted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to the Supreme Court of India (SC), saying that Hadiya was a victim of indoctrination and psychological kidnapping.
The High Court of Kerala then handed over Hadiya’s custody to her father, Ashokan. But Hadiya says she converted to Islam on her own will. Shafin Jehan then moved to the Supreme Court who in March 2018, restored Hadiya’s marriage, 10 months after the Kerala High Court annulled it.
Pune365 spoke to eminent citizens and experts who shared their insights on the issue at large and what they thought of the public outcry on the Hadiya case…
Corina B. Manuel, Founding Creative Director, Withanelle Production: I think the best answer lies in the one passed by the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court. In its historical judgment the Supreme Court has elegantly articulated that the ‘freedom to choose religion of one’s choice or life partner was at the heart of Indian plurality even as it set aside the Kerala high court judgment which had annulled the marriage of the 24-year-old Hadiya, alias Akhila, to Shafin Jahan.
I think fighting for one’s constitutional rights is always ‘a matter worthy of going to court’ over. After all, we live in a free country and our personal and constitutional rights do matter, always. Moreover, this was done with a great of civility and consideration.
Personally, I think, all this started because of a concerned and loving father who was looking out for the best interests of his daughter. Keeping aside the age-old debate about nature versus nurture, we all want what is the best for our children and want them to grow into the image of us. I don’t think there is anything wrong in that.
Having said that with due respects to the arguments of influencers, indoctrinations and conversions notwithstanding, the heart wants what a heart wants. Honestly, there are no right and wrong answers and there are certainly no winners or losers.
Even when you win you lose and when you lose, well.
But here in this case, our freedom to choose won. And the protagonist was the three-judge-bench led by CJI Dipak Mishra, who categorically stated that the couple were a pair of consenting adults and that we could not get into the neurological aspect of a marriage between two consenting adults.
Kiran Manral, Popular Indian Author: We need to stop, as a people and a country, interfering in the agency of an adult woman to marry whoever she chooses, to change her religion if she pleases.
We have instances across the country, of women converting to the religion of their spouses, in order to get married. This kind of outrage was completely unprecedented and makes one wonder if it was just because it was Islam she converted to.
Would there be a similar outcry if a woman got married and converted into any other religion one wonders.
Anand Agashe, Senior Journalist, Chairman Media Next Pvt Ltd: There are two aspects here. As far as the legal aspect is concerned, I feel whatever the Supreme Court has said, I stand by it. That if she is an adult, she is free to decide whether she wants to convert or not, whom to marry, when to marry etc.
The controversy is because as far as the Hindu-Muslim relationship in our country is concerned, there is a long history that goes back to a few centuries. There are a mix of events that had happened so, what I feel is, it is not just about whether she is legally entitled to marry outside her religion, it also has a relevant past as far as this particular religion is concerned.
If there is a question of two adults, then no matter there is Love Jihad or not, the person is entitled to matter whomever they want to. But it is a fact that the relation between Hindus and Muslims in our country are pretty tenuous.
There are also been cases of mass conversions either willingly or not. So, all these have come into play. And especially because the father picked it up, the issues garnered a lot of attention. So, we should look on to the context of the entire thing. One doesn’t should look at one or the other version but needs to take everything into consideration.
But if the investigative agency thinks that there was some kind of IS connection then they are free to investigate.
Netraprakash K Bhog, Advocate and Environmental Activist: In the world where there have been more conversions into other religions than any other place is in India. Even the Muslims have now become a community which has a very strong base here than earlier.
So, the question is when there is no bar here, why should there be many bar anywhere else?
We have looked up and taken the stand as a human issue and allowed the girl to convert, why should any body object. There is so much formalities, castes and creeds in Hindus.
All the other religions are converted from Hinduism by enlarge in India. The freedom is given to the girl to convert to Islam. But when an Islamic girl converts to Hinduism, they don’t like it, why? But they are the one who are proposing conversions. Christianity and Islam are two religions that are increasing by converting Hindus. Such freedom should be allowed to all and that should be everyone’s freedom.
What the SC decides is final. If Kerala HC has aired, the SC has set it right. Our judicial system is at a fair level. Freedom of converting is left to individuals, then as per laws it is to go.
Basically, there are no Hindu bodies that are going around converting people like them. Which might be the reason that this case was so hyped…
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