New Delhi: Kerala's Hadiya has told the Supreme Court today that she is a Muslim and wants to live as one. She has requested judges in an affidavit that she be allowed to live with her husband Shafin Jehan, who she married after she converted to Islam.
"I embraced Islam on my choice as per my conscience and on my own free will, after studying about Islam and thereafter I married Shafin Jahan. I further pray that this court may be kind enough to appoint my husband as my guardian," said Hadiya, adding that she "continues to live in confinement."
Hadiya, a 24-year-old homeopathy student, was born Hindu and was called Akhila Ashokan before she converted to Islam and changed her name. Her case has been labelled as "love jihad" by her parents and others; it is a term used by right wing groups to accuse Muslim men of marrying Hindu women, converting them and recruiting them for terrorism.
Hadiya's marriage to Shafin Jahan was annulled by the Kerala High Court last year after her parents alleged that she had been brainwashed and forced to convert to Islam in a plan by terror group ISIS to indoctrinate and take her to Syria.
Hadiya had met Shafin Jahan, who was working in Oman and had returned to India recently, through a matrimonial website affiliated to an organisation which the National Investigation Agency says it is probing for links to terror.
Shafin Jahan had appealed in the Supreme Court against the high court order cancelling their marriage. The top court had directed the NIA to investigate whether there are any terror links to the case.
In November last year, the court summoned Hadiya in person and after speaking to her, ordered that she be allowed her to complete an internship at a homeopathy college in Tamil Nadu's Salem.
In her affidavit today, Hadiya has said that she has been "under confinement without the freedom that I am entitled to. Even now I am under police surveillance. I most humbly pray that my entire liberty may kindly be restored to me."
She has also alleged that she was tortured after the Kerala High Court annulled her marriage with Shafin Jahan and sent her to her parents' custody under police surveillance. She said she has been "treated like a terrorist" by the NIA, also accusing the agency of trying to mislead her by portraying Shafin Jahan as a terrorist.
Last month, the Supreme Court said Hadiya is an adult and so her marriage to Shafin Jahan cannot be questioned. It also said that while the NIA can continue to investigate Mr Jahan, it cannot investigate the legitimacy of her marriage.
A marriage has to be separated from any criminal action, aspect or conspiracy, "otherwise we will be creating bad precedent", a Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had said.