NEW DELHI: Young Hadiya again shouted out to reporters at the airport, before boarding the flight to Delhi for an appearance before the Supreme Court, that she had converted to Islam and married the man she loved. She has said this over and over again but in its investigation into 89 such marriages in Kerala, a state in clear conflict with the BJP government at the centre, the National Investigation Agency has turned deaf to the young woman’s assertions. Instead it now is trying to counter this by insisting that “hypnotic counselling” is being used by “trained persons” to influence what it calls “vulnerable women.” And that then these women do what the men, terrorists in the NIA’s reckoning, urge them to.

The Supreme Court, hearing the case, had directed Hadiya’s father to ensure she was produced in court so that her testimony could be heard in open court. It has now said that it might make it in camera, but will decide after Hadiya reaches the court this afternoon.

The young woman has earned a big fan following, particularly among the people, for holding steadfast to her belief in her husband Shafin Jahan who is under NIA ‘investigation’ although on charges that remain unsubstantiated. Despite the pressure from not just her family that now has custody of her, but from the court, the NIA interrogations, the BJP that has been working at different levels to make the girl renounce her marriage, and in the process re-embrace her Hindu faith, Hadiya has not budged. She has been in tears often, but has continued to support her husband whose life is now literally in her hands. He will be picked up and jailed the moment Hadiya rescinds, although he has approached the court for justice for both of them.

Hadiya arrived in Delhi last night with a small group of youth shouting slogans in her support as her car drove into Kerala bhawan

Hadiya’s story has four striking similarities with that of Ishrat Jehan, the young woman killed in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case:

1. In both cases the girls were in love, made a choice, and refused to budge from it;

2. The state confronted and fought both Ishrat Jehan and Hadiya for their choice, although given Sheikhs background Jehan met with a violent death at the hands of the state; while Hadiya is undergoing tough and constant pressure from the state’s National Investigation Agency;

3. Ishrat Jehan protested when she heard of the ‘encounter’ death of the man she had hitched her life to right or wrong and was killed so that she did not speak out; Hadiya has refused to retract from her marriage and her belief, despite being placed in the custody of her father, and subjected to immense pressure from the state;

4. Both women are victims of political connivance finding its basis in communalism. Ishrat Jehan paid the price for the games being played in Gujarat; Hadiya is suffering because of New Delhi’s power play to somehow link the Left government in Kerala to ‘terrorism’ with the ‘love jihad’ ideology being used as the reasoning board.

Hadiya’s case is being used by the BJP in Kerala to drive a wedge between the two communities. And focus on what its leaders are describing as the Left front governments support for “love jihad.” Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, recently in Kerala as part of a BJP campaign, attacked the Kerala government for not containing it. CPI(M) politburo member Prakash Karat said that his party was of the firm view that Hadiya had the right to choose her husband. Referring to the High Court order that had annulled the marriage Karat told reporters, “the high court order is not only shocking but a case of judicial overreach. She is a 24year-old adult and has every right to decide whom she should marry.”

"In that case many interreligious marriages can be declared invalid just because someone raises allegations that the wedding was conducted under the influence of some groups. If the couple committed any illegal act then action can be taken against them. A marriage cannot be nullified saying that the couple might go to Syria and join IS," he said.