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No ‘Love Jihad’ in Kerala, No Such Term in Law: Govt to Parliament

Two cases of inter-faith marriages in Kerala have previously been investigated by the National Investigation Agency.

Updated
India
2 min read
Hadiya Jahan, known as Akhila Ashokan before she converted to Islam, married Shafin Jahan in December 2015. The case brought ‘’love jihad’ allegations in Kerala into the limelight. 
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In response to a question raised in Parliament, the Central government said that there was no case of ‘love jihad’ in Kerala.

Kerala MP Behanan Benny had asked the question during the Lok Sabha session on Monday, 3 February, the News Minute reported.

“Whether the government is aware of the observation of Kerala High Court that there is no case of love jihad in Kerala? If yes, whether any of the central agencies have reported any case of Love Jihad from Kerala during the last two years, and if so, the details thereof?” he reportedly asked.

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No Case of ‘Love Jihad’ Reported: MHA

In a written reply, Minister of State for Home Affairs, G Kishan Reddy answered, “the term ‘Love Jihad’ is not defined under the extant laws. No such case of ‘Love Jihad’ has been reported by any of the central agencies.”

“However, two cases from Kerala involving inter-faith marriages have been investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA),” Reddy said.

“Article 25 of the Constitution provides for the freedom to profess, practice and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health. Various courts have upheld this view including the Kerala High Court,” he said.

The Case of Hadiya

The issue of ‘love jihad’ was brought to the limelight in Kerala in 2016 by the case of Hadiya and Shafin Jahan. Previously called Akhila, Hadiya converted to Islam and married Jahan by her own volition, as she later stated.

However, her father, Ashokan Mani, filed a habeas corpus petition stating that she had been forced to marry and convert.

A long court struggle followed, during which Hadiya was even placed under house arrest, and the Kerala high court ruled to annul the marriage and ordered Hadiya to return to her parents.

The Supreme Court finally decided that the marriage and conversion had been voluntary. “Hadiya alias Akhila Asokan is at liberty to pursue her future endeavours according to law,” the SC said.

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‘Christian Women from Kerala Being Trapped By ISIS’

In January 2020, the Synod of Syro-Malabar Church, a Catholic body in Kerala, kicked up a storm when they said that "love jihad is a reality," alleging that Christian women from Kerala were being trapped by the Islamic State and used for terrorism.

The body, that is chaired by Cardinal George Alencherry, accused the Kerala police of not taking the matter seriously, and not taking prompt action in such cases.

“There are circumstances in which Christian girls are killed in the name of Love Jihad in Kerala,” the Synod said, in a allegation issued by the Syro-Malabar Media Commission. “It is a reality that ‘Love Jihad’ is happening in Kerala in a planned manner, targeting Christian girls.”

Kerala Finance Minster Thomas Isaac later said that the allegations of the Bishops have “no factual basis.” Isaac said that such statements had been made previously too, but had been disproven by government investigations. "If there are concrete cases or allegations, they will definitely be looked into. But the Kerala government does not believe that there is any basis for such generalisation," he had said.

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