NIA probe on 'love jihad' may cover all suspicious cases

For representational purposes

For representational purposes

The case was brought to the Supreme Court in July by Shafin Jahan after the Kerala High Court ruled that his marriage to Akhila Ashokan, who took the name Hadiya after converting to Islam, was invalid and a case of "love jihad" - a term coined by Hindu right-wing groups to allege an Islamist strategy to convert Hindi women via first romance and then marriage.

Appearing for the NIA, additional solicitor general Maninder Singh had told the bench, "We have arrived at some observations... So we asked the NIA", he said.

It directed the probe agency to furnish the report to it after completing the investigation.

The bench had also asked the NIA and the victim's father to give turn in all the materials related to the case over to the court.

"If we speak to her at this stage and she says that she was forcibly converted and married off, the case will be over".

To this, Justice Khehar replied that the court will "100% speak to the girl". It will be unfair to you. The SC order comes after Kapil Sibal, said the court should decide the issue after speaking to the girl.

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Senior counsel Indira Jaising told the bench that it was an inter-religious matter and the court must be careful.

Safin Jahan has challenged the Kerala HC order of May last, annulling his marriage, saying it was a case of "Love Jihad".

Earlier the court had said the NIA would provide "neutral and unbiased assistance" to ascertain if the issue was a local one or had some wider ramifications.

The girl, named Akhila, was allegedly kidnapped and wrongfully confined in Kerala's Malappuramn district before she was married to a Muslim man Shafin Jahan and later force to convert into Islam and change her name to Hadiya.

It was alleged that the woman was recruited by Islamic State's mission in Syria and Jahan was only a stooge. The girl's father KM Ashokan had alleged that it was a case of fraudulent conversion.

The high court, while declaring the marriage as "null and void", had described the case as an instance of "love jihad" and ordered the state police to conduct probe into such cases.

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