NIA took first step in the Kerala’s love jihad case. This is the first time that the NIA, which was meant to probe terror offences, is investigating the circumstances of a marriage to determine if this was a case of “love jihad”
India’s top counter-terror agency, the National Investigation Agency, on Friday started its first-of-a-kind probe into the marriage of a Hindu woman to a Muslim man in Kerala last year to ascertain if it was a case of Muslim extremist groups radicalizing a Hindu woman and recruiting them for terror groups.
“We have re-registered the case under the directions of Supreme Court,” Sharad Kumar, the chief of the investigating agency set up after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, told NDTV.
This is the first time that the NIA, which was meant to probe terror offences, is investigating the circumstances of a marriage to determine if this was a case of “love jihad” – a term coined by Hindu right-wing groups to allege an Islamist strategy to convert Hindu women via first romance and then marriage.
The NIA got involved because the family of 24-year-old Akhila Ashokan, who took the name Hadiya after converting to Islam, alleged that the man who lured her into marriage, Shafin Jahan, also wanted to recruit her for terror group ISIS. The Kerala high court had annulled the marriage in May this year.
Back in 2016, the NIA did start a probe against members of a radical outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) for an organised effort and conspiracy to lure a woman to convert to Islam. Four people were arrested by the Kerala police in this case.
One common link between this case and Akhila Ashokan’s marriage was that one of the suspects in the PFI case and Muscat-based Shafin Jahan were members of the same Facebook page.
“There seems to be a pattern in the alleged conversions. We will investigate that,” NIA chief Sharad Kumar said.
Sources told that the focus of the NIA probe would be to establish that the conversions were part of a larger conspiracy rather than individual cases. The probe will be overseen by a retired Supreme Court judge RV Raveendran.