VR Jayaraj | Kochi
Within ten days of the Kerala High Court’s observations that a campus-based Islamist campaign called Love Jihad or Romeo Jihad for converting non-Muslim girls into Islam through love did exist in Kerala, another judge of the same court put forward a different argument and imposed a freeze on investigations into two such cases.
Considering a petition filed by Shehenshah and Sirajuddin, students of a Pathanamthitta college praying for cancellation of the FIRs against them, Justice Sasidharan Nambiar stayed the investigations against them till further orders. The Muslim youths had been accused of forcing their lovers, one Hindu and the other Christian, to convert into Islam forcibly.
The judge observed that the probes had targeted a particular community and such a tendency would lead to communal tension. He asked the police to submit detailed affidavit on the matter. Justice Nambiar also froze the follow-up actions in these two cases.
On December 9, Justice KT Sankaran of the High Court had observed that there were sufficient reasons to believe that an organized conversion campaign was operating in the State. He had also asked the Government to consider formulation of a law against forced conversion on the lines of the ones in force in certain other states. He had also rejected the bail applications submitted by Shehenshah and Sirajuddin.
On the contrary, Justice Nambiar said that inter-community marriages could not be treated as instances of forced conversion. He said that inter-caste and inter-community marriages had been happening in the society for a long time and these could not be seen as illegal. He said those who had probed the cases seemed to be harbouring certain vested interests.
The court unleashed scathing criticisms against the police for their assumptions on the cases, the case diary of which had come to its possession last week. The judge said that the descriptions found in the case diary had shocked his conscience. He added that the case seemed to be falsely framed by the police.
Legal experts pointed out that Justice Nambiar’s order and observations were in total contrast with those of Justice Sankaran. Ruling that Love Jihad seemed to be real, the latter had told the State Government that it had the responsibility to check forced conversions. Justice Sankaran had also rejected a petition seeking a ban on the use of the terms Love Jihad and Romeo Jihad.
Justice Sankaran had pointed out that the police reports had made it clear that forced conversions through love affairs as a movement had been going on in Kerala since 1996. He said that according to police reports, about 4,000 conversions had taken place through love affairs in the past four years, and 2,800 girls of other religions had been converted into Islam in this period.
He also said that 1,600 such conversions had taken place in four northern districts including Malappuram, Kerala’s Muslim-majority district. It was evident from the report submitted by the DGP that outfits like Islamist Popular Front of India (earlier NDF) and its student wing, the Campus Front, were behind the organized campus-based conversion programme , said Justice Sankaran.
The issue came out in the open in August last, when the parents of Hindu girl Mithula and her Christian friend Bino, both MBA students, approached the High Court with habeas corpus petitions seeking presentation of heir missing daughters. The girls first said they had converted voluntarily but later admitted that they had been forced to convert in a house at Chelari in Malabar.