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Hadiya case and its implications on individual liberty
24-year-old Kerala woman Hadiya's case has been making headlines for a while now. Hadiya, born Akhila Ashokan, a Hindu, converted to Islam and married Shafin Jahan, a Muslim, in last December without the consent of her parents.

After her father filed a petition in the Kerala High Court, claiming that her husband was planning to take her to Syria to join the IS, the Kerala HC annulled her marriage. She was sent to her parents' home and lived there as a virtual prisoner with no access to outsiders. With both right-wing Hindu and Muslim organisations jumping into the fray, Hadiya is caught in the middle of an ugly tug of war between the two groups who are fighting to claim her as their own.

After the matter went to the Supreme Court – following the video shot by Rahul Easwar, a Hindu activist, who argued that there was no forcible conversion as Akhila had become a Muslim a year prior to her marriage – it was decreed that she would be sent back to Salem to pursue her education. The question of her marriage is yet to be decided. While the parents have declared that Hadiya is mentally unstable, the girl has herself expressed her wish to reunite and live with her husband, the man she loves.

While there is some evidence that young people from Kerala belonging to other religions are being radicalised and sent to fight for the IS, the numbers are quite minuscule. Besides, Hadiya's marriage could be a genuine one, as adults have the right to choose their life partners.

According to Rahul Easwar, Hadiya did not have a good relationship with her parents which to some extent could explain her personal decision over chosing her life partner. But the question is: Does the state have a right to override her decision? She is neither a minor nor mentally ill, as her parents claim.

Hadiya was forced to stay with her parents because of Kerala HC's decision. Not discounting her parents' unhappiness with her choice of marriage, this is not right by any means as it violates her constitutional right of individual liberty. Furthermore, she was used as a pawn by opposing ideologies in their efforts to score brownie points. This is utterly reprehensible. Hadiya has the freedom to make her own choice even if it may later turn out to be wrong. No court can tell her who to live with or where she should live, simply because she is a mature adult above the legal age of 18.

Meanwhile, it is becoming difficult to ignore the narrative of Islamic radicalisation in Kerala. The state should conduct studies and initiate measures to prevent it. Parents should try to maintain a healthy relationship with their children so that they they don't go astray. There should be interfaith discussions on preserving communal harmony which is under threat from both Hindu and Muslim right-wing groups. Young people should also realise that there is nothing to be gained by fighting as mercenaries in remote foreign lands. Even Saudi Arabia, one of the biggest sponsors of Islamic terrorism, has now turned a new leaf by denouncing it.

Hadiya's case has come in handy for right-wing ideologies to foment social and religious conflict in the state. The BJP is straining every sinew and nerve to plant its flag in this southern state which has always been an exemplar of communal harmony and amity. One hopes that it always remains so.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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