Akhila to Hadiya
Perhaps there is no other defining image of the Modi era than a small but plucky woman covered in scarf and screaming at people and policemen at the Kerala airport that she is marrying, not because she has been forced, or financed but out of her own choice. Hadiya, previously Akhila, came out openly and vocally in both the court and outside that she is an adult and is marrying because of her own volition. However, the Kerala High Court does not believe that a 25 year old woman can think on her own, cannot judge on her own, and that she has been carried away by the 'magic' of a Muslim man Shafin Jahan. The judges believe that it is abnormal for an adult to read about a different religion at a time when the client is studying to become a doctor. Beyond abnormality, the foreign connection was mooted to cast the marriage in a bad light. It is not emphasised that Shafin Jahan's mother is in the Gulf, and that is where the two were heading after completing the marital contract. The links between her and the global issue of terrorism were finely forged to delegitimize the whole act of matrimony. Not to the Gulf but the hot-spot of Syria, were the two headed before Akhila's father jumped in to petition the court that his daughter has been radicalised by a gang of Muslims. The father is searching for a way to get back his daughter along with her old ways and manners, Shafin Jahan is asking why he cannot get back to his wife to whom he is married, Hadiya is pleading to be with her husband, but as a lay reader you should not be surprised in wondering about the direction where India is headed. The 'husband' has entered the Supreme Court asking for a union with his 'wife' pleading through Kapil Sibal and Indira Jaising that the two are adults and well within their personal rights to decide about their life, after having met through a matrimonial site.
Supreme Court and Hadiya
The Supreme Court has sent back Hadiya to the Homeopathic College where she was studying. Both father and husband are away from her. In the court she demanded her freedom to practise any faith. The oldies in black courts in the Court reprimanded her for asking for the guardianship of her husband. The Supreme Court has not given a verdict in favour of anyone, father, husband or the woman in the center of it all. The husband has asked for his wife, what he got in return is a return ticket for his 'wife' back to her College. Perhaps the intention behind the judgment is that within the next few years in College she will get enough wisdom, and become an 'adult' in order to see what is good for her. In that case will the age of consent be raised to 27 in the case of marriage and other sensitive matters?; Because, presumably she is not a "normal" thinking adult woman who can choose her life partner. During the next few months she will remain under the vigil of police and the apex court, until the next hearing, and the hearing after that.
Imagine a scenario in which Hadiya was Pritika and Shafin was Ramesh. How would the Supreme Court and the media in general have conducted the affair. From the zeitgeist it is implicit that the matter may not have gone beyond the mohalla in which the two would have lived. The couple met on the matrimonial site at a wrong time, in a wrong combination of denomination.
With the National Investigation Agency now in picture the situation looks anything but bleak for the couple. The words 'indoctrination' and 'programming' have assumed enormous importance in the current atmosphere. From the point of view of the NIA, Hadiya shows symptoms of having been 'programmed' to the extent that she has almost lost her mind, and cannot be held to the same standards as another un-programmed human being. Until she is completed de-programmed and her mind made the Lockean 'tabula rasa' she cannot be relied, until that time she is speaking a language which is not comprehensible in the Modi era, or her vocabulary is poison which is better left unopened into the public domain. Because a regime which started off with the slogan of love-jihad can ill-afford to lose this case. The case has to be dragged on, and the couple passed through the toils of law until they voluntarily feel it to be pragmatic to call off the wedding, and return to their old fold. If you cannot adjudicate to victory, fatigue them to defeat. The lemming-like followers of Moditva will congratulate themselves about the validation from the court about their apprehension of covert abduction of Hindu girls. The chaddi-dom will be consolidated and in future if anyone contemplates such a wedding, he would be scared to keep his thoughts and imagination under control because the name and case of Hadiya will keep pounding in his mind. It will be the final 'no' seal on conversions.
'Brave' new India
India is undergoing a churning under the reigning weltanschauung, and Hadiya is a warning sign. We are noticing, what the current regime was accusing the previous of, is true of itself too. The institutions and agencies are subjected to the writ and will of the saffronised structure of governance. The line between appearance and reality of justice is collapsing, and the old fault lines are re-emerging, with the veneer of impartiality coming off like the casing of a snake.