No ‘Love Jihad’, Karnataka Police tells HC; Silja goes with Ashkar

By Staff Correspondent,

Kochi: The Karnataka CID informed the state High Court on Friday that there was no evidence for the functioning of the ‘Love Jihad’ in the state. The Court then let Silja Raj, resident of Chamrajnagar in Karnataka, to go with Ashkar of Kannur in Kerala. Silja had converted to Islam and married Ashkar, with who she was in love.

The order of the High Court came while considering the habeas corpus petition filed by the father of Silja Raj on October 21. The Court had then asked the Kerala and Karnataka police to probe into the alleged ‘Love Jihad’. The Kerala DGP Jacob Punnoose reportedly submitted his report on November 11 stating that such a movement was not functioning in the state. The Karnataka CID submitted the report on Friday. The Court has also agreed to the request of the CID that it needed two more months for a detailed investigation on the ‘Love Jihad’. The Court will reportedly consider the matter again on January 18. The judgement was passed by Justices K Sreedhara Rao and Ravi B Mallimat.

Silja’s father Selvaraj had reportedly accused in his complaint that Ashkar had loved Silja aiming at conversion and that it was part of the activity of the ‘Love Jihad’ which had foreign funding. The complaint also reportedly says that Silja was found missing on August 8 and Ashkar informed her parents on August 15 that he had married her.

Silja responded to the media persons that she was happy with the judgement. ‘Nobody has forced me to marry Ashkar. I loved and married him. Now the court has allowed me to go with my husband,’ reports quote Silja.
The couple got to know each other when Silja’s family came to Kerala. Ashkar was the driver of the taxi they hired in Kottayam district in south Kerala. Ashkar, a native of Kannur, was working in Kottayam. The familiarity that began then gradually led to love. That Ashkar was poor did not affect the civil engineering student’s love for him. When the family tried to invite marriage proposals for her, Silja maintained she did not want to get married before completing her studies. On completing civil engineering, she left her house to join Ashkar in kerala.

Running away from home was reportedly Silja’s plan. Ashkar had informed her that he would not be able to marry her since she was a non-Muslim. Then, she got ready to convert to Islam. She took a few clothes each day to her friend’s house. And after some days, she ran off to Kerala on August 8. They registered their marriage on August 9 and Ashkar informed her parents about it on phone.

Silja’s uncle and some others approached the Erattupetta police station. When Silja maintained she did not want to go back home, they returned. Silja joined the madrasa at Ponnani to learn Islam. About 20 people came from Karnataka and threatened the couple at the madrasa and Ashkar’s workplace. (Ashkar was then working as driver in a house.)

Silja’s father again came with a police officer from Chamrajnagar and a photographer to meet the couple, but they maintained they did not want to go Mysore. The photographer reportedly took a few snaps which were later shown on a Malayalam TV channel. The channel reportedly gave a news item that Ashkar had kidnapped her and forcibly converted her. The report said he was a terrorist and that he had converted 22 women by feigning love and kidnapping. The story went on that he was rewarded Rs 10 lakh for converting one such girl.

Ashkar began to get threats from Koothuparamba, his native place. His family also left him, believing all the news that came about him in the media. Silja’s uncle again approached the Kottayam police with some leaders of a Hindu right wing group in Kerala, but Silja kept her stand. At last Ashkar and Silja convened a press conference in Kottayam on September 8, pleading to let them live.

Silja’s parents then approached the High Court with a habeas corpus. The HC asked the Karnataka police to investigate any possible ‘love jihad’ links of Ashkar and the very existence of the movement or organisation called ‘Love Jihad’. The report was to be submitted by three weeks. The court also asked Silja to go with her parents till the investigation was over. The decision was taken by the court as the lawyer of Silja’s father mentioned the similar cases in Kerala and the decision of the Kerala High Court to let the girls with their parents. Even after living with parents and all the hype about the so-called ‘Love Jihad’, Silja has decided to go with Ashkar.