‘weak and vulnerable’
Are young, gullible non-Muslim women in India being persuaded to embrace Islam, radicalized and used as cannon fodder for terror groups?
Former officers say that although converting Hindu and Christian girls to Islam in the garb of love have been rampant since the nineties, investigations one after the other had not reached anywhere due to the lack of political will.
Akhila – who had by now converted to Islam and taken the name Hadiya – told the court that she was “impressed” by her friends’ “timely prayers and good character” and was taken in by Islam after reading Islamic books and watching videos on the internet. She told the court that she had been following Islam for three years, without formally announcing the change of faith. She told the court that she had left her home on January 2, 2016, because her father had seen her pray the Islamic way and had warned her against doing so. Akhila then went straight to Jaseena’s and Faseena’s house in Perinthalmanna in Malappuram district.
KM Ashokan says he grew suspicious after she expressed a wish to go to Syria. The NIA is investigating the cases of more than 20 radicalized youths from Kerala who have gone to Syria or Afghanistan to fight for ISIS.
Ponnamma says she felt a change in her daughter the day Akhila told her to convert to Islam if she wanted to reach heaven.
“Akhila has been influenced so much that now she is trying to convert her mother too. The mother told me that Akhila was questioning them on why the family didn’t have any progress despite her mother faithfully praying to the Hindu Gods. She told her mother that she must also embrace Islam so that her mother can go to heaven and not to hell, like non-Muslims,” Rahul said.
Kasargode district based 23-year-old Athira has been in the headlines this month. In an interview to Times Now, Athira explained that she was attracted to Islam while studying computer science in college. she revealed that a few of her friends and classmates had ‘influenced her’ to study Islam and change her religion. Her friends reportedly gave her videos of Dr. Zakir Naik and some books narrating Quran and Hadith for reading.
She claimed her friends often spoke about how idol worshiping is wrong and how non-believers of Islam might go to hell. “I was given a lot of literature that made me believe that it is bad to follow a religion that permits polytheism and idol worship. To such questions, I had no answers and their explanations about Islam were so powerful and convincing. This really changed my mind,” added Athira
In an interview to Times Now, Athira explained that she was attracted to Islam while studying computer science in college since most of her friends were Muslim. “They told me that Hindus worship stones. They even asked me how stones could protect people,” she said. Athira said she listened to the speeches of many Islamic scholars, including Zakir Naik. “All of them spoke about Hinduism based on unauthentic Puranas. They exhorted Islam is the only true religion and I began to believe in the supremacy of Islam.”
“All my friends were Muslims, and they brainwashed me. They questioned me about the logic behind worshiping stones. They made me think that my religion (Hinduism) is wrong and only Islam is the correct religion. The books that these friends gave me were also about how Hinduism is wrong. My message to everyone is that he or she should study their religion properly and then decide what’s right for you,”-said the woman during her interaction with journalists.
With Athira coming on record to say that a concerted effort was unleashed on her by her Muslim women friends and classmates to influence her, the modus operandi is all but out in the open.
It is this picture that is changing at the moment. While the ‘love’ in ‘love jihad’ still remains a mystery, the modus operandi for conversion now involves using fellow women students to evangelise (a term often used for Christian preachers) Hindu or Christian girl students into making them believe that Islam is the one and only way to lead a better life that would take you to heaven
What happened next…
Athira was also turned to Islam by her company manager, who introduced her to the speeches of Zakir Naik, a preacher wanted by India’s counter-terrorism authorities. She was then indoctrinated by a man named Naufal. He took her to the same study center Akhila attended and began trying to persuade her to go to Yemen, where she would be able to meet true believers. Naufal is reported to have arranged an emergency passport for her and to have taken her as his third wife.
Athira became alarmed when Naufal began to discuss ISIS and its Keralan connections. She knew he was trying to pack her off to Yemen or Syria and backed out. The NIA suspects Naufal may have fled to Syria.
Athira also goes on to name one Siraj, an activist with PFI and brother of her classmate Aneesa, who had assisted Athira during the conversion. “It was Siraj who motivated me to convert to Islam. Siraj was instrumental in me leaving home, and getting converted. Later on, I stayed at one of his relative’s house. He, along with a few other workers of PFI transported me from one hideout to another before I appeared in front of the police. Even my mobile phone was taken away from me and they returned it only after I told the police that I converted on my own wish and that I was staying with a classmate of mine and nowhere else,” Athira said during the press meet.
When questioned about why she choose to leave her parents after converting to Islam, Athira shared some astonishing details about how individuals from Popular Front of India (PFI) coached and trained her in advance to answer questions that the court may ask during proceedings on her parents’ habeas corpus filed in Kerala high court.
It is more significant that, ‘radical’ Muslim outfit Popular Front of India and its political wing Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) have emerged as a common link in the “indoctrination” and “luring” of not only the two Athiras but also that case of Akhila Asokan alias Hadiya (name given after conversion), a senior NIA officer told HENB. Hadiya has insisted that she got married of her own free will.
Reformation at Aarsha Vidya Samajam, in Ernakulam
“I was completely misguided into believing that whatever my religion taught me was false and it would land me in hell if I followed such customs. Who will not get scared when you are continuously fed such things? They even gave me books about Zakir Naik. It was only when I started reading the Holy Quran objectively having returned to live with my parents that I realized that all of this was ridiculous,” added Athira.
While asking how is her short journey to Islam, Athira told HENB, “It was horrific concerning Islamic taboos, hate preaching against non-Muslims without pause, violation of women rights in every footstep and sexual exploitation all around. I was in a strangulating situation and was under life threat if I would leave Islam anyway “.
Athira said her views on religion changed during the time she spent at the Hindu reconversion center, Aarsha Vidya Samajam, in Ernakulam. Her decision to “return” to Hinduism was reportedly influenced by a visit with her parents to the Arsha Vidya Samajam, where she studied Hinduism. “I then came to realize that my decision to convert to Islam was wrong. I did not have much knowledge about my faith then. I do now,” she said in a press conference.
Athira is fortunate enough that her parents helped her regain religious consciousness. Credit for saving Athira’s life goes to her parents as well as to activists from Arsha Vidhya Samajam’s Kochi Centre as they helped her understand what Hinduism way of life means.
The mother, Bindu, has alleged that her daughter was forced to convert after she was married and now has joined the ISIS in Afghanistan.
“Nimisha was trapped by Sajjad Raham while she was taking coaching for medical entrance exam in Thiruvananthapuram,” the mother has stated.
“The government and its agencies should deeply investigate these disturbing events and neutralize the threat to our country and its social fabric. They have 2 weeks to find a girl of another religion and 6 months to convert them to Muslim,” Bindu alleges in her application.
Bindu has also claimed that a monetary award of Rs 7 lakhs is given for such conversions.
The Supreme Court is hearing the alleged love jihad case involving 24-year-old woman Akhila, alias Hadiya, whose father has claimed that his daughter was trapped by a racket that indoctrinates people and converts them to Islam.
The petitioner, Akshara Bose, who was born to a Hindu Ezhava family in Kerala, has reportedly moved the SC requesting an NIA probe. She claimed that she was forcefully converted to Islam after one Sajjad Raham lured her into a sexual act, which he recorded on his phone in 2014.
Raham allegedly used the video recording and blackmailed the 25-year-old into marrying him. Later, in August 2017, he took her to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and restricted her from getting in touch with her parents back in India.
The mother of Raham is also allegedly involved in the forced conversion of Akshara. According to the petition, the family of Raham received a load of cash and gold from unidentifiable sources, after they converted a non-Muslim to Islam.
The 25-year-old petitioner alleged that she was confined as a sex slave in Jeddah where she was forced to watch Islamic videos featuring Zakir Naik, the controversial Islamic preacher with alleged terror links.
Referring to her escape from Jeddah, the petitioner also mentions in her plea to the apex court of India, that Raham had planned to sell her to the Islamic States (ISIS), and was all set to travel to Syria along with her.
Akshara finally managed to escape from the confinement in Jeddah on October 4, 2017, with the help of her father in India, who sent her the air tickets to travel to Ahmadabad. She reached India on October 5.
Raham is a member of Popular Front of India (PFI), which is now under the scanner of security agencies. The man allegedly forged the Aadhar card and passport of the petitioner, so as to ensure that Akshara’s address is no longer linked to her parents anymore.
The petition states that a marriage officer from Hebbal in Bangalore teamed up with Raham in forging the credentials of the petitioner, and they were married in May 2016.
The petition observed all the people involved in the alleged forced conversion and marriage of the petitioner, were mute spectators.
The 24-year-old woman went missing in June this year. Worried parents filed a missing complaint after which she appeared in court. On June 6, 2017, the woman appeared before the court for the first time and said that she had been married to Anees. She was asked to make her choice and she chose to leave with her husband. Within months, the woman returned to her parents in Kannur after she learned of a plan to shift her to Syria. The parents claim that they have been receiving threats to return their daughter to Anees ever since she came back home.
“The woman who left with her husband the first time realized that there was a plan to take her to Syria. She saw posters of PFI claiming that she was married to Anees only to be taken to Syria and hence left from there and returned to her parents,”
The court has issued a notice to Anees over allegations of him planning with members of the PFI to take the girl to Syria. The police have been asked to probe the role of alleged radical Islamic groups in the case.
Meanwhile, another woman – who has remained anonymous – was converted to Islam at the Maunathul Islamic Sabha, a religious center in Kochi, Kerala. The 29-year-old claims teachers belonging to the Islamist organization Jamaat-e-Islami instilled in her the courage to kill or maim kafirs (non-believers) and sacrifice her own life for Islam. They taught her to hate anything Indian and revere Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Like Athira, she realized her mistake only when they tried to pack her off to Yemen or Syria.
Dr. Zakir Naik
Speeches of Zakir Naik and concocted versions of the Holy Quran with distorted meanings are some of the tools employed in ‘thought reform processes’, a new word to the often-over-abused misnomer ‘brainwashing’.
It’s unfortunate that Naik’s videos are still accessible in India and culprits are using the same to spread their propaganda. Investigative agencies suggest several Hindus from Kerala are brainwashed, converted to Islam and then sent to Iraq. As per MoS Home, Hansraj Ahir, Kerala witnesses at least one thousand conversions every month. He also pointed out that most of the people from the state who joined the Islamic State were ‘converted’ Muslims.
NIA is currently investigating the famous (probably) love jihad case involving the victim Akhila from Kerala. Now, the most important question, why is it that Zakir Naik’s videos are still available and accessible on YouTube? Naik and his followers operated web and television properties from Mumbai. Several high-ranking police officials from Maharashtra have promoted Peace TV and Zakir Naik in the past. Is it because of their soft corner for Naik that these videos are still readily available on the internet? Hope the NIA is observing and looking at all these links. Else, many girls like Athira would be misguided in the future.
NIA investigates further…
Two Kerala women named Athira, with different surnames recently appeared before the NIA office in Kochi and recorded their statements wherein they said that they were provided literature and audio-video materials relating to hard-line interpretations of the religion and subsequently were induced and brainwashed to embrace Islam.
These confessions of two Athira added fresh ammunition to the ‘love jihad’ controversy as National Investigation Agency (NIA) accepted that they were induced and brainwashed to convert to Islam under certain ploy designed as ‘love jihad’.
The agency has sought a list from the Kerala Police of the converts who switched their faith since 2015 and subsequently entered into marriage with Muslims. The police have till so far furnished a list of 90 such conversions. The cases relate to forced conversions, inter-faith relationships, and marriages, with complainants alleging a larger effort to ‘lure’ women to convert to Islam wherein ‘gullible’ girls were allegedly converted to Islam and in most of the cases there was a pattern that points towards inducements and psychological brainwashing by certain radical groups, sources said.
“There are so many similar cases, like the case of Thiruvananthapuram-native Nimisha. The court had dismissed the habeas corpus filed by her mother and later she went to Afganistan to join ISIS. In Akhila’s case, this was the second time her father approached the court. The case is not about her individual rights or freedom of choice. Like the court observed, she did not fall in love with a man from different religion and leave her family. She converted and then while the case was going on, got married to a total stranger, Rajendran says.“This is about radicalization. She, like Nimisha, has been brainwashed with the stories of horrors of hell and lured into converting with the promise of heaven.”
- They are drawn to Islamic study centers by Muslim colleagues or friends, or through being casually approached by such institutions
- The centers instill in them i) a fear of hell and ii) a hatred toward their own gods, family, nation, and beliefs
- They urge them to embrace Islam and to cut family ties if their parents refuse to embrace Islam also
- They arrange Muslim husbands for them and tell them to be prepared to go to Yemen, Syria or Saudi Arabia
- They are told marriage to a Muslim is mandatory