THE National Investigation Agency (NIA), in its status report to the Supreme Court on Thursday, is learnt to have attached the statement of Hadiya (Hindu girl Akhila who converted to Islam and married a Muslim man, Shafin Jahan) in which she has reportedly denied any pressure to convert to Islam or marry Jahan.
“She has said that she married Jahan of her own free will and decided to convert voluntarily,” a top government source told The Indian Express. Sources familiar with the investigation said Hadiya has also denied that she was offered any pecuniary benefits.
The development is significant since any investigation against Jahan, or a decision on the annulment of their marriage ordered by the Kerala High Court, would be based on whether she was under pressure.
“While the woman’s father has alleged that she was not in a proper mental state to take the correct decision, the same has not been proved and cannot be proved at this stage,” said a government official.
Hadiya’s father, K M Ashokan, had alleged that she had been indoctrinated by radical groups. Hadiya is set to appear before the Supreme Court on Monday.
Sources said the NIA also did not find any financial trail linking Hadiya or others in the case to any organisation allegedly involved in facilitating conversions. In its report, however, the NIA is learnt to have listed organisations which reportedly facilitate inter-faith marriages and conversions in such cases.
In August, the Supreme Court had directed the NIA to probe the case after Jahan challenged the Kerala High Court’s decision to annul their marriage and give Hadiya’s custody to her father.
In its earlier report to the court, the NIA had claimed there was a “well-oiled machinery working in Kerala” involved in indoctrination and radicalisation of women, and 89 such cases had been reported. The agency had listed nine cases of alleged forced conversion registered by Kerala police since January 1, 2015.
It claimed that the court could invoke parental authority even if Hadiya was an adult, as her case suggested that she was radicalised.
The Supreme Court had said it could consider the contention of the NIA and Ashokan, that Hadiya had been indoctrinated and her consent was not free, only after it had talked to her.