Hadiya divorces and marries again, father approaches court saying she is missing

  • Hadiya lashes out at her father saying she is 32 years old and can make her own decisions
  • 'Should I lead the rest of my life in a room in my father's house!' she says, frustrated with her father
  • Hadiya's conversion to Islam and marriage to a Muslim man triggered a 'love jihad' debate in 2016; it was put to rest by NIA in 2018
Dr Hadiya. File Photo: PTI

Kozhikode: Dr Hadiya – whose conversion to Islam and marriage to a Muslim in 2016 triggered a heated debate on "love jihad" in Kerala – has divorced him and married another Muslim man.

Like in the first marriage, her father K M Ashokan, a native of Vaikom in Kottayam district, has approached the High Court of Kerala with a habeas corpus petition saying Dr Hadiya has been missing for the past two months.

Dr Hadiya (formerly Akhila Ashoka) has lashed out at her father accusing him of "playing the dirty games of the RSS". Ashokan dismissed her statement. "Let her say what she has to say in court," he told Onmanorama. "She is my daughter and all I want for her is to stay safe and alive. That's all," he said.

Habeas corpus writ is a protection against illegal and arbitrary detention of a person. When pressed why he reported her to be missing when she was accessible over the phone, Ashokan said, "There is no need to go there as of now... None of this would have happened if she had called and told us her whereabouts," he said. "Did she not mislead the court by producing a person as her husband? Now she has divorced him and is getting ready to marry another person. I don't understand what her intention is. Do they have any plan to trigger a blast and unleash terrorism? We have a lot of doubts," he said. Ashokan said her daughter could come clean in the court of law.

Dr Hadiya, a homoeopath by profession, converted to Islam during her medical studies in Coimbatore and married Shafin Jahan in 2016 when she was 25 years old.

Back then, Ashokan filed a writ petition in the High Court saying the conversion was forced and Shafin Jahan had links to extremist Muslim organisations such as PFI. He also argued that she would be trafficked to Syria to join the Islamic State.

Ignoring her statement that she converted and married on her own will, the High Court annulled the marriage, calling it a 'sham'. In their judgment on May 24, 2017, Justices Surendra Mohan Kuriakose and Abraham Mathew said: "Her marriage being the most important decision in her life, can only be taken with the active involvement of her parents". The judges gave the custody of the adult woman to her parents saying: "As per Indian tradition, the custody of an unmarried daughter is with the parents until she is properly married".

Shafin Jahan approached the Supreme Court. On March 8, 2018, a three-judge bench set aside the High Court order. On April 9, 2018, it was held that the High Court of Kerala could not have used Article 226 to annul the marriage of an adult.

Initially, the case was heard by a bench headed by Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar. He ordered the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to investigate Hadiya's marriage. He retired on August 27, 2017.

In 2018, NIA closed the investigation finding no evidence of 'love jihad', which as of now remains a conspiracy peddled by the rightwing ecosystem. According to a report by Hindustan Times (https://bit.ly/47U3xqn), NIA examined 11 interfaith marriages in Kerala and "could not unearth any evidence of coercion that can result in prosecution in these cases". To be sure, the Supreme Court did not call for the NIA report on 'love jihad' when it set aside the High Court order.

'My father is lying'
Though her father's writ petition upset Dr Hadiya, she tried to pick up her life. In July 2019, she opened a homoeopathy clinic in Malappuram's Othukungal grama panchayat and was leading a private life.

Now, her father's second writ petition saying she is missing has forced her to make her personal life public again. When Onmanorama contacted her on Saturday, she sounded frustrated. "I was born in December 1991. Today, I am a 32-year-old woman. Tell me how an adult woman should lead her life?" she said.

"Should I give up my life for the RSS? Or should I lead the rest of my life in a room in my father's house? I am asking because I don't know what society expects of me," she said.

"Don't I have the right to live a life of my choice? If I am doing something illegal, lock me up in jail. I don't have any problem," she said.

"But what dirty games the RSS and the RSS-affiliated media are playing! And my parents are playing along," she said.

"Those who are talking of parents' feelings should understand one thing, I am being crucified for a long time," she told Onmanorama.

Dr Hadiya said her father came to her clinic one year ago. "That day, I was out shopping. Won't I have my own needs, requirements, and engagements?" she said.

Her father Ashokan had said that he approached the High Court after not finding her in the clinic on December 3, and because she went incommunicado. "Whatever he has said is a lie. My father and I were always in contact over the phone. I stopped attending his and my mother's phone calls after he played this dirty game. Two days ago, I attended my mother's call and told her that I was not interested in speaking with her because I lost trust in them," she said.

On her remarriage, she said it need not be a topic of public discussion. "Our Constitution allows us to get divorced and remarry. It normally happens in society. I want to ask why everybody gets irritated when I do it. I want to ask the same of my parents?" she told MediaOne.

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