November 27, 2017
Edited by Deepshikha Ghosh
Born Akhila Ashokan, Hadiya was in college when she met Shafin Jehan, who had returned to Kerala from the Middle East.
Hadiya, the young woman from Kerala who married a Muslim man, will speak before the Supreme Court today on her family’s allegation that she was kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam for the purpose of terror recruitment. The 25-year-old, wearing a head-scarf, flew from Kochi to Delhi under heavy security for the hearing in what has been dubbed the “love jihad” case. Hadiya is expected to tell judges if she married Shafin Jehan a year ago of her own free will.
Here are the top 10 developments in the story:
1. On way to Delhi on Friday, Hadiya told reporters at the Kochi airport: “I have not been forcefully converted, neither have I been forcefully married to Shafin Jahan. I married him out of my own will and I want to live with my husband.”
2.Her father KM Asokan has argued in court that she “does not have an independent mind” and is brainwashed and heavily indoctrinated, which indicates that her testimony cannot be relied upon.
3.Born Akhila Ashokan, Hadiya was in college when she met Shafin Jehan, 26, who had returned to Kerala from the Middle East, through an Islamist matrimonial website. The site is affiliated to the Popular Front of India, which, the National Investigation Agency alleges, has links to terror.
4.Hadiya’s father contested the marriage and alleged that Shafin Jehan was trying to recruit her for terror and take her to Syria. On his petition, the marriage was cancelled by the Kerala High Court in May.
5.Since then, she has been living at her father’s home in Kottayam and has been allowed no contact with outsiders without her father’s approval.
6.Shafin Jahan challenged the annulment in the Supreme Court, which said it wants to hear her version. Last month, the top court had said Hadiya’s consent as an adult is “prime”.
7.Mr Jahan has also filed a complaint with the police, claiming her parents have been trying to re-convert Hadiya to Hinduism.
8.Hadiya’s father has asked for an in-camera hearing or one that is closed to the media, alleging that a public hearing would turn into a “reality show”. The judges have said they will decide only when Hadiya arrives to testify.
9.Earlier this month, a team of the National Commission of Women visited Hadiya in her father’s house and declared her “happy and safe”. The team’s visit followed activist Rahul Easwar sharing a video in which she accused her father of physically abusing her.
10.The National Investigation Agency, the country’s top anti-terror body, recently questioned Hadiya’s husband for six hours. The agency is inquiring into 89 Hindu-Muslim marriages in Kerala.