Thiruvananthapuram: Akhila Ashokan, who prefers to be known as Hadiya, stands in the doorway with her head covered, and asks, plainly, "Is keeping me like this enough? Is this all my life is going to be?"
- Kerala woman converted to Islam, married Muslim in December
- National Investigating Agency will investigate her marriage
- Both she and mother offer their arguments on camera
Her question is addressed to her mother, Ponnamma, who is visibly distressed. "I want my child back, I want my daughter back," she says over and over.
The video of the woman whose marriage is now being investigated by the country's top counter-terror agency was shot with her permission, according to activist Rahul Easwar. He told NDTV "There has to be some closure. The girl has been living in just a room and one-bathroom for the last three months. She is not allowed to go out anywhere. The family doesn't go out much because they feel they have been shamed. I have told Hadiya that I will help her but she must not leave her parents. The girl says she wants to continue and die as a Muslim."
The Supreme Court yesterday accepted that the National Investigating Agency or NIA is entitled to dissect how and why Hadiya wed Shafin Jahan because it could be symptomatic of a larger pattern in Kerala devised to recruit unsuspecting young Hindu women as terrorists. The NIA says this is the growing consequence of "love jihad" in a state where at least 20 people have disappeared to join ISIS in either Afghanistan or Syria.
"Love jihad" is a term coined by Hindu right-wing groups to allege an Islamist strategy to convert Hindu women via first romance and then marriage. Ponnamma says on camera that her daughter urged her to convert to Islam, cautioning that otherwise, "she would not go to heaven.
In the case of Hadiya, who is 24 and trained as a homeopath, her father, Ashokan KM, has argued that Shafin Jahan, 27, has links to the ISIS, ignoring her testimony to the Kerala High Court that she had converted to Islam of her own volition and that she met Shafin Jahan through an Islamist matrimonial site.
Based on her father's claim, the Kerala High Court annulled Hadiya's marriage in May and ordered her to return to live with her parents in Kottayam.
Shafin Jahan then appealed to the Supreme Court in July, arguing that the marriage is one between consenting adults and cannot be dissolved at the instance of her family