Kerala: The capital of India's Love Jihaad
Love jihad is religious warfare by which Muslim men lure Hindu women away from the faith, have circulated in one form or another in India for more than a century. The southern part of India has recently emerged as the hotspot of this ill practice and many girls have fallen prey to their evil intentions.
In 2011, when Akhila Ashokan was eighteen, she left her home in T. V. Puram, a village in Kerala, for her higher studies in Salem, a busy suburb seven hours to the east. Her father, K. M. Ashokan, was an ex-military man; her mother, Ponnamma, a practicing Hindu from faith. She studied homeopathy, boarding with five women, including two Muslim sisters, Jaseena and Faseena, with whom she studied, cooked, and talked. Akhila watched them pray. Soon after—it is unclear when exactly—Akhila started to read books and watch videos that helped her to understand and know Islam. Feeling the stirrings of a new faith, she began to practice Islam and soon started reciting Islamic prayers. In 2015, she decided to call herself "Aasiya" and left her old identity which she carried with herself over the years. When she visited her home in November 2015, her father realized some changes within her when she attended a funeral. She was quiet and reserved at that moment without any emotions and was reluctant to join in the rituals. After the funeral, Aasiya resolved to declare her new faith and returned to school wearing a hijab. Her mother, when she heard of the conversion, told Aasiya that her father had broken his leg & asked to see him. But Aasiya, wise to the extravagant emotional blackmail of Indian parents, refused. She began a residential program for new converts at Sathya Sarani, a religious institute in Kerala; took yet another name, Hadiya; and registered a profile on waytonikah.com.