As her choices were challenged by her own father in court last year, Akhila Ashokan and her contentious conversion to Islam became a matter of national debate.  A rather progressive and educated woman, the 24-year-old was moved by Islamic ideals that led her to leave her orthodox family and adopt a new identity of “Hadiya”. While she was away from her home, she married a Muslim man out of her free will which irked her father to an extent that he declared it a case of “love jihad”. Without even considering her rationale behind making a choice for herself, she was made the victim of a curious religious and political battle.

The Kerala High Court annulled her marriage in May last year after her father called it a mental brainwashing and an attempt by terrorists to drag her into the dark notions of Islam. Finally, on 8th March 2018, the Supreme Court restored her marriage and released her from the bondage and suffocation she was subjected to.

Read Also: Apex Court Quashes Kerala HC’s Order of Annulling Hadiya’s Marriage

Genuine basis or pre- conceived notions?

The woman, through all this suffering, remained adamant on her stand and chose to not give in to the social pressure. While such bravery supplied immense inspiration to young women across the country, the entire issues also raised questions about the constitutionality of such instances. Being a 24-year-old adult, Hadiya was denied the basic right of choosing her own husband and the court on top of it, empowered her father to dismiss her decision as immature and dubious. The basis of such an allegation were largely her father’s preconceived notions about a particular community which forced him to hold his own daughter hostage in their house. A country that has historically experienced numerous conflicts over religious lines seems to be rigid in its beliefs even today.

Unfortunately, the marriage of Hadiya became everyone’s business to comment on and the most relevant and central opinion of her own was drowned in communal noise.

The suppression of Hadiya’s marriage posed a huge question on the extent of freedom women have in regard to their decision of marriage. Unfortunately, the marriage of Hadiya became everyone’s business to comment on and the most relevant and central opinion of her own was drowned in communal noise. Her resilience, resolution, and rebellion are what ultimately liberated her of an imposed decision and succeeded in providing her justice.

Also: Hadiya Tells SC that She Wants to Remain a Muslim

Hadiya as a youth icon

In times, where the younger generation is being constantly accused of being impulsive and incompetent of making sound decisions, her story serves as a landmark step forward. Choosing a life partner is an individualistic decision wherein interference beyond a limit becomes problematic. To what extent a parental intervention in an adult’s life is admissible can also be extensively debated. Young students weighed in with their opinions:

Rashmi Chakravarty, 19, a student from LSR college believes, “Hadiya is a steadfast role model for the youth who are striving hard to exercise the rights they have been given constitutionally. This is denied to us by the society and parents becoming puppeteers of our decisions. India really needs to move forward now. Hadiya’s parents claimed that she was too immature to take the decision herself, despite the fact that she is a legal adult. I am proud of Hadiya to show such exemplary courage”.

Akanksha, an engineering student from Delhi comments,”I understand why Hadiya’s father was so concerned. However, instead of blatantly going to the court, he should have at least tried to understand Hadiya’s perspective. I think she possesses revolutionary views and her ultimate victory resurrects my faith in the power of truth and love. We need more such women”.

While there might have been instances of love jihad in the past, labelling every single inter-religious relationship as one is just bizarre. Hadiya didn’t deserve to be treated this like.

Aditi Chaudhary, 18, another student of LSR, feels, “love jihad is, at large, a politically motivated concept. A Hindu and Muslim together immediately are the centre of debate and judgement. Why can’t we just let our youth make their own decisions? While there might have been instances of love jihad in the past, labelling every single inter-religious relationship as one is just bizarre. Hadiya didn’t deserve to be treated this like.”

“Reading about the story of Hadiya filled me with immense frustration. What the woman was subjected to was purely inhuman. Even the judiciary green signalled the annulment. Clearly, the woman had nowhere to go. Yet she was courageous enough to speak up in the Supreme Court and fight for herself. Her example definitely is empowering for us, young girls across the country”, said Shubhangi.

Read Also: Jamia Girls Win, Hostel Authorities Say Women Will Stay Out Longer

Picture Credits: The Hindu

Nimisha is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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