Kerala, Oct 18: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) which had picked 11 cases of interfaith marriages in Kerala to probe allegations of ‘love jihad’ at the instance of Supreme Court could not find evidence of forced conversion that can result in prosecution in these cases.
Officials told media that while there have been efforts to facilitate the conversion of either the man or the woman involved, there was no evidence of a larger criminal design or indications of forced conversion.
“As the agency had not found evidence, the matter stands closed. The NIA is not supposed to file any further report in this regard in the Supreme Court,” a senior NIA official told media.
The investigation started due to the famed Hadiya case. Hadiya converted to Islam after she married Shafin Jahan. Her father had filed a petition and the Kerala High Court had annulled her marriage. However, the Supreme Court set aside the Kerala High Court order.
Eleven interfaith marriages were picked from a list of 89. These cases were already before law enforcement authorities due to complaints registered by parents or were referred to the federal anti-terrorism agency by the Kerala police.
“In most cases, similar people and organisations associated with Popular Front of India (PFI) were involved in facilitating the man or woman in inter-faith marriage to convert to Islam. However, prosecutable evidence to bring formal charges against these persons under any of the scheduled offences of the NIA, like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act has not been found,” the official added.
While freedom to practice and promote religion in a peaceful manner is a fundamental right in India, conversion and facilitating conversion does not become a crime.
Meanwhile, PFI’s legal advisor KP Muhammer Shareef has termed concept of love jihad was cooked up by the right wing forces to target Muslim community as well as organizations such as PFI and SDPI.
Among the 11 cases examined by the NIA, there are four cases where Hindu men embraced Islam after marrying Muslim women. In the rest of the cases, Hindu women married Muslim men. The NIA probe found that in at least three cases, efforts at conversion failed.
Meanwhile, the NIA official stresses that the probe does not put out PFI from scrutiny. Criminal charges booked against PFI cadres for murder and other cases will be investigated separately, he said.