Even as the love jihad debate continues to rage in Kerala, a woman approached the state high court on Saturday to seek the nullification of her marriage with a Muslim man who had “converted” her and was allegedly planning to sell her as a sex slave in Syria.
The woman claimed that her husband, Mohamed Riyaz (26), forcibly flew her to Saudi Arabia with forged papers and was planning to smuggle her into Islamic State-controlled territory. Though the complainant was reportedly locked up in a room in the middle-eastern nation, she managed to procure a mobile phone with which she contacted her parents back home. She was rescued last month with the help of some NRIs, after which she was flown back to India.
She also alleged that her husband – a native of New Mahe in north Kerala – is an active worker of the Popular Front of India, a fundamentalist outfit suspected of carrying out conversions in Kerala.
Riyaz, who is still in Saudi Arabia, could not be contacted for his version of the incident.
The 23-year-old woman, who hails from Pathanamthitta in central Kerala, was brought up in Gujarat. It was when she was studying in Bengaluru that she came in contact with Riyaz. She said they had sex on a certain occasion, during which he secretly shot videos of the act and began blackmailing her.
The complainant alleged that she was later admitted to a madrassa in north Kerala by force, where she was tutored in Islamic tenets. Their marriage was solemnised by a cleric in May 2016.
According to the woman, she had even managed to escape from her husband’s clutches on a certain occasion. Riyaz filed a habeus corpus petition in the high court alleging that she was illegally confined by her parents, following which she was forced to return to him. He took her to Saudi Arabia on a tourist visa in August.
Interestingly, the case has surfaced only a few weeks before the Supreme Court is expected to hear Muslim convert Hadiya Jehan’s testimony on November 27. The case made nationwide headlines after the 24-year-old woman – originally called Akhila Ashokan – converted to Islam and married one Shefin Jehan from Kollam in south Kerala. Her father approached the Kerala high court in May, claiming that his daughter was forcibly converted after being indoctrinated. The judicial body annulled their marriage, following which Shefin moved the apex court.
After meeting Hadiya last week, National Women Commission chairperson Rekha Sharma alleged that indoctrination and forced conversions were being carried out in many parts of the state. The Kerala government has rejected her statement.
Women and children stranded in Syria
Police have reportedly intercepted messages indicating that many women and children hailing from north Kerala are still stranded in Syria.
In one of the audio clips, a woman is heard telling her kin that her husband was “martyred” recently and she now has nowhere to go. She goes on to say that there are many other women and children like her, some of whom were even ready to return.
Kannur deputy superintendent of police PP Sadanandan, who is investigating these cases, said it was likely that over 100 people hailing from north Kerala had joined the Islamic State over the last few years.