Protesters gather at Jantar Mantar to ‘Free Hadiya’

The courts' orders have denied an adult girl her agency and ability to act, say protesters.

WrittenBy:Sahla Nechiyil
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Despite heavy rains, protesters showed up at Jantar Mantar on Thursday to extend their support and to stand in solidarity with Hadiya, a Muslim convert, who has been under house arrest since May. Around 30 to 40 protesters, a majority of them being students, gathered at Jantar Mantar to demand Hadiya’s release. Though the number of protesters was less than expected due to the ongoing student union elections in two premier institutes, JNU and Delhi University, student groups were careful about ensuring their representation- leaving an impression that the issue was too serious to be neglected.

The call for the protest was given by various women’s and students’ organisations who also submitted a deputation to the Chief Justice of India.

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Hadiya, born Akhila, is a Muslim convert from Kerala’s Kottayam city, whose marriage to a Muslim man Shafin Jahan was nullified by the Kerala High Court in May, early this year. The court had raised questions regarding Hadiya’s conversion and called the marriage a “sham”. Since then, Hadiya has not been allowed to go outside her house and no one has been allowed to meet her either.

Yesterday’s protest, however, comes a day after six women activists, who had gone to visit Hadiya on August 30, were denied permission to meet her. They were bearing books and other gifts for her.

Sucheta Dey, the national president of All India Students Association (AISA), pointed out at India’s misfortune. She said that despite being one of the most important pillars of Indian democracy has failed to uphold the basic rights and choices of a free citizen.

While referring to the Supreme Court’s August 16 order for an NIA probe into the case, Kavitha Krishnan, All India Progressive Women’s Association’s secretary said, “The court should have called the 24-year-old woman to Delhi, heard her side of the story and then decide.”

Meanwhile, serious criticism has been raised by activists regarding the indifferent approach shown by the Kerala government towards the case. Waseem RS, Fraternity Movement’s secretary, was vocal about it.

The absence of Students Federation of India (SFI) activists, the student outfit of CPI(M), at Jantar Mantar was also noted by some protesters.

Vibhuti Kapil, a student from Delhi University said that the verdicts, in this case, have denied an adult girl her agency and ability to act by her own will. The high court had said that the girl was “weak and vulnerable” and susceptible to exploitation, and that “marriage being the most important decision in her life, can also be taken only with the active involvement of her parents.”


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