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Hadiya not the only one, NIA suspects seven similar cases of ‘forced conversion’

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In its report to SC, probe agency alleges PFI arm Sathya Sarini is responsible for forced conversions to Islam in Kerala.

New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency, in its report to the Supreme Court, has drawn parallels between seven alleged cases of forced conversion by Sathya Sarini, a branch of the controversial Popular Front of India (PFI), calling them “very similar” to the case of Hadiya Jahan.

The report hints that Hadiya too could have been a target of the Sathya Sarini, and claims that PFI facilitated conversions of four women and a man in Malappuram in the last two years.

The Kerala Police had given the NIA details about 94 suspected cases of forced conversions, of which the NIA identified 10 that allegedly involved PFI activists.

“We went through the list of 94 cases of suspected forced conversions to identify a pattern, and see if Hadiya’s case too was one of them,” one investigator told ThePrint.

“After going through case details of each, we shortlisted 10 cases in which we found the PFI members involved in facilitating marriages. Since Hadiya’s husband Shafin Jahan is a PFI activist, it raised doubts, and we made a note of it,” the investigator alleged.

Investigators claimed they also zeroed in on four men, also PFI activists, who convinced Akhila Ashokan to become ‘Hadiya’, and had also convinced another woman by name Athira Nambiar to convert.

“During investigation, we found a common link, a woman named Sainaba, activist of the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political arm of the PFI. She was mentor to both Athira and Akhila (now Hadiya), and convinced them to take up Islam. It was also found that she was in touch with women who were parties in other forced conversion cases,” the investigator alleged.

“We found that it was not just women, but even men who were forced to convert to Islam. We identified five cases in which men were forcibly converted. Our investigation just draws parallels in these cases of forced conversions and that of Hadiya, to see if this too is a case of a similar nature,” the investigator alleged.

Hadiya’s father had filed a petition in the Kerala High Court, alleging that she had been ‘forcibly’ converted to Islam, and stating that his daughter could be taken away to Syria. In May 2017, the high court declared Hadiya’s marriage to Shafin Jahan invalid, even though annulling a valid marriage is not permissible, even by a constitutional court in India.

On 16 August this year, the Supreme Court got involved in the case, on a petition from Shafin Jahan. The then Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar asked the NIA to probe if Kerala was witnessing a conspiracy of sham religious conversions of young women to Islam. The court had appointed a retired SC judge to oversee it.

Last week, Hadiya appeared before the Supreme Court and demanded freedom from her father’s ‘protective custody’. The court allowed her to complete her studies in Salem, Tamil Nadu, and also appointed the college dean as her legal guardian.

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  1. Hadiya is a 25 year old woman and has been saying all along that whatever she has been doing is of her own free will. This is what she also said in the courts where she was under no pressure from anybody. Her constitutional right to choice of religion and partner has to be respected.

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