NIA Arrests Kerala Man for ‘Forcing’ His Wife to Convert to Islam
Image used for representational purposes.
Image used for representational purposes.(Photo: The Quint)

NIA Arrests Kerala Man for ‘Forcing’ His Wife to Convert to Islam

Days after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took up the case of a 25-year-old Kerala woman who was allegedly forced to convert to Islam by her husband, the main accused in the case has been taken into custody.

Muhammad Riyaz, a native of Kannur district, has been accused of forging documents to marry the woman and taking her to Saudi Arabia, for the purpose of selling her off as a sex slave to ISIS, claimed the woman's petition to the Kerala High Court.

On Friday, the NIA took Riyaz into custody from the Chennai airport, after he landed from Jeddah. An NIA official told The New Indian Express:

Riyaz arrived from Jeddah via Colombo. We had information about his arrival and intercepted him. We are interrogating him at our office in Chennai. The interrogation is about the allegation raised by the complainant against him and his suspected links with the ISIS. His arrest has not been recorded.

According to reports, Riyaz will be brought to NIA's Kochi office on Saturday and his arrest is likely to be recorded after detailed questioning.

Nearly two months after the woman – who resides in Gujarat along with her family –filed the petition, the police had arrested two people for helping the main accused Riyaz.

Weeks after their arrest, Riyaz had denied all allegations at a press meet held in Jeddah, where he works.

Maintaining that he did not know the reason behind the woman's allegations, Riyaz said:

I don’t know why she is saying this; all of this about the ISIS link is not true. She stayed with me here in Jeddah for a month on tourist visa and had to leave to India since her father took ill. She went back and suddenly this complaint surfaced.

The Petition

The woman, originally from Pathanamthitta in Kerala, resides in Gujarat along with her family. According to her petition in the HC, she escaped from the custody of Riyaz in Saudi Arabia and flew back to India in the first week of October last year.

Her forced conversion and subsequent fraudulent marriage to Riyaz were done with the help of Popular Front of India (PFI) members in Kannur, the petition states.

The woman was studying at a college in Bengaluru in 2014, where she met Riyaz. Her petition reads that in November 2015, he allegedly coerced her into having sexual intercourse with him. He allegedly recorded the act and threatened the woman into having a sexual relationship with him.

According to the petition, Riyaz then forcibly enrolled the woman at a madrassa in Bengaluru, following which he forged documents, including her Aadhaar card (with her new Muslim name), to get their marriage registered in May 2016.

Riyaz and his family "got a wealthy gift of money and gold ornaments from some unidentifiable sources for converting a non-Muslim to a Muslim”, alleges the petition.

She also claimed that he forced her to watch videos of controversial preacher Zakir Naik, who is being closely monitored by NIA for his alleged terror links.

She added that she was confined to the house he had rented in Saudi Arabia and was harassed, physically and mentally.

(This story was first published on The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)

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