Hadiya-Dilna, being two sides of religious conversion in Kerala, needs equal attention in different angles

Hadiya-Dilna, being two sides of religious conversion in Kerala, needs equal attention in different angles. Photograph: Facebook

Kottayam/Kerala, August 31: There were protests outside the house of Hadiya in Vaikom, Kottayam, on Wednesday after some people were not given permission to meet her or to give her books and gifts. A trespassing case had been registered against 7 people that included 6 women’s rights activists, who visited Hadiya, the Muslim girl who got converted from Hinduism to Islam.

The trespassing charges were filed against Faisal of Mundakkayam, his wife Shabna and five other women including a student, journalist and a filmmaker, who allegedly tried to meet Hadiya which resulted in a protest outside her house.

Hadiya was under house arrest since May 2017, after the Kerala High Court invalidated her marriage with a Muslim man named Shafin Jahan after she was converted to Islam. Allegedly, this person has connections with the SDPI and ISIS terrorist group. It was also alleged that the marriage is just a tool to take her to Syria, the headquarters of ISIS.

Asokan, Hadiya’s father did not allow them to meet Hadiya telling that she is provided with all the facilities without fail. He further said that their faces were covered and the women held placards that read “Release Hadiya from house arrest” and “Free Hadiya, We are against house arrest”.

According to a report from Times of India, a case was previously registered against Faisal as the local residents stated that Faisal was seen in the area from the morning. The trespassing charges were filed based on a complaint given by Asokan.

Hadiya, whose original name is Akhila got converted to Islam according to her own choice. One year after her conversion, she got married to a Muslim man Shafin Jahan, which was abolished by the Kerala High Court in May 2017. Questions were raised regarding the conversion of Hadiya and the High Court of Kerala declared it an invalid marriage. Then, Shafin Jahan approached the Supreme Court with a special leave petition. Later in August, the Supreme court ordered the National Investigation Agency to probe into the case.

Dilna Alphonsa married a Hindu, forcibly converted to Hinduism, now facing dowry demands and domestic violence.

Another noteworthy incident took place in the state has come to light a few days ago. A video was posted by a women Dilna Alphonsa on Monday night which said that she was under a life threat and was continuously being harassed by her husband and her father-in-law as she is a Christian. It was also alleged that she was beaten up several times for reading the Bible and continuing other practices in Christianity. Dowry was also allegedly demanded by her husband and in-laws.

She said that “I don’t know what to say and how to say. I am posting the video from a lake resort, where my husband works as a General Manager. The management of the resort asked me to leave the place. My husband was knocking on the door, but I would not open as I am scared of him. Mine was a love marriage: I was a Christian and he is a Hindu. She was converted at the Arya Samaj in Kozhikode. I was forced to convert to Hinduism by my husband Abhijit Balan. All the arrangements for the conversion and wedding were made by my husband,” said the women in the Facebook Live on Monday.

A video was posted asking for help which said that her husband, General Manager at a resort at Vaikom in Kottayam district was continuously harassing her for dowry and used to beat her. A case was registered against her husband Abhijit Balan for harassment in the name of dowry under section 489A by the Vaikom Police.

Dilna Alphonsa added that Abhjith Balan already initiated divorce proceedings, and the case is going on. She further said that” My husband and his father are now demanding dowry, which I can’t give.” Dilna Alphonsa accused that she received death threats from her father-in-law if she refused to obey them. Reportedly, her father-in-law was close to many politicians including Amit Shah and Pinarayi Vijayan and hence none would ask even if she is killed.

“My husband and I registered our marriage at the Kozhikode Corporation. Now, he says that these weren’t valid. When we got married, my husband was an assistant sales manager in a firm. Previously, he told that his monthly salary is Rs 18,000. Later, he stated that I do not match up to his current status and now wants to leave me. I got warnings from my husband that he would kill me if I refused to leave the place. I have nowhere to go. I cannot even go to my home as my parents were against the marriage,” said Dilna Alphonsa.

There were continuously many issues between us and in the morning he raised hand on me. “He even attempted to strangle and kill me. There is a bump on my forehead. She further said in the video that” My husband wants to leave me because previously I was a Christian.” Dilna Alphonsa was living with Abhijith Balan in the resort for the last three years. According to media reports, she told that “We have been living here since he began working here. A complaint was registered in the Vaikom Police station on Tuesday but they were reluctant to take action. I was taken to the Taluk hospital in Vaikom by the Vaikom Police and was then shifted to the Medical College in Kottayam after I vomited in the afternoon. Today, I would be going to get some scans and other tests”.

According to media sources, the Vaikom police announced that the statement of Dilna Alphonsa is already taken and a case is registered against Abhijith Balan for dowry harassment and physical assault. Yet, the police are yet to take the statement of the accused. “The investigation has begun and it’s on the right track,” the police said. Anyhow, Abhijith Balan was not available for any response.

A women journalist in Thiruvananthapuram informed the state Women’s Commission about the incident. According to reliable sources, Women’s Commission member Thara told that “We have been trying to contact her since yesterday but there was no response.”

Hadiya and Dilna are just two sides of a coin, a weird coin. Both are being betrayed. On one side, where one girl got converted to Muslim religion by her own choice, as the way she said it. The NIA is investigating the issue. While the other woman was forcibly converted to Hinduism by her husband and later she became a victim of abuse and was asked to give dowry or leave the place. His family also threatened to kill her if she does not obey them.

The police had still not taken a statement from the accused in the case of domestic violence and forced conversion. This proves a slow system of maintaining law and order, which could ultimately result in people losing their confidence in the security forces. There must be proper actions in such cases immediately or else women would not come forward with their complaints. Amid wide awareness on women empowerment programmes and much forward Women’s Rights Commission, the women in Kerala would remain deprived, helpless, abandoned or beaten-up.