Hadiya, the 24-year-old woman from Kerala, courageously unveiled the Hindutva fascist character of the Indian state machinery before the world by solely demanding her right to live with a man of her choice, the man that she loves, the man whom she married following Islamic rituals. The veil of sham secularism that the Indian state machinery had been wrapping itself with since 1950 to deceive the people, went off due to Hadiya’s valiant struggle against injustice and the grotesque appearance of the Hindutva fascist state machinery, which is now ideologically and administratively aligned with the ruling dispensation led by Narendra Modi, became visible to the public.
Everyone who follows the news and current affairs closely knows about the strange case of Hadiya, who was born as Akhila Ashokan to K.M. Ashokan, a former paramilitary man and a conservative upper-caste Hindu. The Hindu newspaper has narrated the story of Hadiya very minutely here and this coverage expose before our eyes the extreme Islamophobia that prevails even in the Dravidian heartland. The very Islamophobia that Hadiya’s father and the Indian state-machinery and its different arms and limbs subscribe to.
What is Hadiya demanding?
The demand of Hadiya is not a revolutionary one that the Indian state will be frightened, rather, as a 24-year-old newly-wed woman, she merely demands her right to live her life according to her own terms with her husband, without any interference of the Indian state and her parents. However, at present, this demand, which most youngsters would make in a similar situation, is not acceptable to the Modi regime and the upper-caste ruling classes, as Hadiya has embraced Islam after leaving her parent’s religion – Hinduism.
For the Hindutva flag bearers, Hadiya committed an unpardonable sin, absolutely intolerable for the patriarchal and feudal society, which sustains the Hindutva fascism, because firstly, she embraced a religion that the ruling classes have listed as their enemy and then, secondly, she is unapologetic about her deed and she stands firmly on her demand, even after severe pressure exerted on her by her father and the state machinery. Refusing to succumb to the demands of the Indian ruling classes and her father, Hadiya is sternously going against the patriarchal module of beginning a married life only with the approval of the father or a senior male member of the family.
All what Hadiya is demanding in a Modi-fied and fractionalised society is her right to live her life with dignity, without being questioned for her spiritual beliefs and no interference of the state over her personal choices and decisions. Hadiya is demanding what the Constitution guarantees her and every other citizen as a fundamental right and by denying her that very right, the right to live, the Indian state machinery is functioning in an unconstitutional way.
The Constitution of India doesn’t allow the state to segregate people on the basis of their religious faith and then persecute a particular section of them for professing a particular stream of faith. The Indian Constitution allows all adult citizens equal rights and such rights cannot be curbed by the state machinery by using the pretext of “maintaining security” of India. Hadiya is demanding the full and unconditional implementation of the Indian Constitution, which is again causing discomfort to the Indian ruling classes.
Why is Hadiya synonymous with resistance to Hindutva fascist bandwagon?
While Akhila Ashokan embraced Islam and became a Muslim long before she met or married Shafin Jahan, her father, who is poisoned with Islamophobia due to his paramilitary background, has been blaming her marriage and her conversion to Islam as a part of a larger “Jihadi conspiracy”, which the Hindutva camp has supported wholeheartedly. The mainstream corporate media too backed this falsehood by using the very phrase formulated by the RSS-led Hindutva fascist camp – love jihad.
The major Hindutva propaganda outlet, Times Group, narrated the story of Hadiya’s journey and the case filed by her father with too much sensational toppings using the RSS-term “love jihad” repeatedly in its newspaper, Times of India, and its sworn jingoistic TV channel – Times Now. Even the fact that the matter is sub-judice and narration of a police story is tantamount to influencing judgement didn’t bother the editorial staff of the Hindutva media organisation at all. They kept peddling the lies and malicious content to portray the Muslims in the darkest possible shade and intensify the inherent hatred against Muslims among the upper-caste elite and middle-class people.
It’s evident that the mainstream media, which licks the boot of the Modi regime and its corporate masters, both foreign and domestic, are keen to showcase the story of Hadiya, her yearning to live a normal life as a major threat to “national security” and these media outlets are continuously relaying the police story as Gospel truth to shape the opinion of the Hindu majority in favour of the BJP. Smear campaigns and WhatsApp grapevines are spread using morphed images of Hadiya to build up a case against her and her husband by the corporate media.
Hadiya and her husband Shafin Jahan are not only facing a court trial over their simple demand of living a normal life but they are also facing a media trial, where the verdict is clear and loud – they have sinned, especially Shafin, because of his Muslim-by-birth identity. He has a lot of chances to be indicted in a sham case of terrorism by the NIA, which is an extended political arm of the Modi regime to carry out witch-hunts against those who cause discomfort to its rule. The opposition of Ashokan to his daughter’s just and constitutional demand is now winning extreme support in the corridors of power and propaganda, a lot of Hindutva venom spitters have joined ranks with Ashokan to force Hadiya to give up her religion.
No questions were raised about how Ashokan became so sure that her daughter will be parcelled to Syria on a Jihadist mission? What makes him believe that his daughter, who is an adult according to the Indian laws and is entitled to vote, marry and lead a life of her own choice, should remain under his “guardianship” and what exactly caused him to believe that his daughter is with Jihadi elements? No one asked Ashokan why he is so pathetically feudal and patriarchal, and why he is so much Islamophobic when his own daughter is a practising Muslim?
No questions are raised because under the Hindutva fascist rule, it’s granted that the Muslims are bound to be wrong, they are expected to be wrong because they are Muslims. It had been the same under the “secular” rule of the Congress as well. The Muslims have been considered the “other” in the so-called “secular” India, where elitist upper-caste Hindu men and women will flaunt their “secular” credentials if they ever befriended any Muslim or visited one’s house during a festival like Eid. It’s so pernicious to be Muslim in Modi-fied India that even dressing like one can attract lynch mobs or the police, and here, in this very space Hadiya is a symbol of resistance against everything that the Hindutva camp stands for.
Hadiya stands in defiance against the backdrop of Hindutva camp’s bullying tactics, the vengeful smear campaigns of the powerful state machinery, simply by wearing her Hijab, a sign of faith that the Islamophobes can’t stand by. Hadiya wears her religion on her sleeves, which the Hindutva camp can’t tolerate because according to them, only upper-caste Hindus have the right to wear their religion on their sleeves.
By calling Islam an intolerant and an enemy religion in a country with only 14 per cent Muslim population, the Islamophobic, utmost Brahminical hegemony seeker upper-caste feudal landlords, comprador and crony capitalists and their lackeys show their own intolerance towards other religions by resorting to malicious campaigns and propaganda against the minority Muslims, jailing and lynching them at the smallest excuse.
Hadiya is a sign of resistance against all these atrocities committed against the Muslim community and the smear campaigns run by the ruling classes to malign the Muslims, one of the most oppressed and exploited people of the country. Even in her mundane, non-revolutionary and traditional appearance, the existence of Hadiya is a sign of resistance against the Hindutva fascist regime and the powerful state machinery that it commands. Their collective strength, their powerful state machinery, propaganda machinery, executioners and lynch mobs look helpless, weak and appear as cowardly as they truly are before the might of Hadiya, who carries no divine blessing or angels with her as many Islamists will boast, but the strength derived from truth, which lies in her simple demand – to live her life on her own terms.
The repercussions of Hadiya’s case
Repercussions of the Hadiya-case will be very painful for the Muslim community, which has suffered historic wrongs and atrocities committed against it under the patronage of the Indian state machinery, which is utmost semi-colonial and semi-feudal in character. There will be no difference in this case as well and the expectation of a spontaneous exception in the outcome will be metaphysical and erroneous in the current scenario unless there is a massive political movement in favour of Hadiya and her rights. The case has traversed a newfangled course and even the apex court has not reinstated Hadiya’s right to live with her husband in the first hearing but merely shifted the “guardianship” of a fully-grown adult woman from one man to another. This tactic may cover-up for the government’s and the state’s lapses and bigotry for the time being, but in the long run, it won’t be able to hide the complicity of the state machinery in keeping the woman subjugated to patriarchy by violating her fundamental rights.
The BJP and the Modi government will kill three birds with a simple stone of xenophobia. Firstly, it will, by fabricating evidence and by twisting facts, indict Shafin Jahan and other PFI members/supporters in a false case from which it may take him years to get released, thanks to the snail’s pace at which the cases proceed in the courts at each level. The BJP, the RSS and other Hindutva outfits will then cite the case of Shafin Jahan as a classic example to prove that the “love jihad” theory, borrowed from Nazi Germany’s vilification campaign to malign Jews, is real and the Muslim men have an ulterior motive behind falling in love with Hindu women.
Secondly, the Modi government will use the context to build up a massive Hindu polarisation drive in those places where it has strong organisational presence and will also try to carve a niche for itself in the political stage of Kerala, where its utmost North Indian upper-caste vegetarian Hindutva theology is not even liked by the upper-caste Malayali Hindus. Even after severe hue and cry over purported violence against RSS workers in Kerala by the CPI(M) to extract support for its notorious agenda in the Malayali heartland, the BJP failed to build up any political asset in the state, despite rallying its bunch of venomous Hindutva gadflies in the state. The case of Hadiya, whose father Ashokan is reportedly close to the RSS, will be a new opportunity for the BJP, which accuses both the CPI(M) and the Congress of appeasing the Muslims and apart from upper-caste Hindus even woos the Catholic community for support, to build up its own vote bank in the state where it’s a non-entity.
Thirdly, by using the case of Shafin Jahan and through media trials, the Modi government would be able to intensify the waves of Islamophobia in the country from 2018 onwards to safeguard the ship of the regime during the high tides of the 2019 general election, where Narendra Modi will have to push Hindutva hard and communal rhetoric mongering would be necessary to sail through those waves. The ascent of Yogi Adityanath and his anointment as the heir apparent of Narendra Modi in a decade or so signals that to win elections from now onwards the Modi government will have to play the Hindutva card more extensively than before. The charges that the NIA will level against the Muslim activists of Kerala, using the case of Shafin Jahan will be a moral and vote booster for the saffron camp, which harps on Islamophobic votes to beat its rivals in the poll fray.
What is the way out from fascism?
There can’t be any single-prescription-solution to the torment that Hadiya, Shafin Jahan and millions of Muslims are undergoing in Modi-fied India under the Hindutva fascist rule. They are questioned about their faith, their choice of clothing, food, lifestyle and above all, they are asked to prove their allegiance to the nation at every instance by the Hindutva camp that has betrayed the nation and its people every time. The carcinogenic cells of Hindutva fascism are trying to kill the harmonious fabric and unity of the poor across communal lines that prevailed and flourished in the country for centuries. This is a threat to the existence of the very idea of nationalism in India, which came into being in a vivid, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual country like India through the intense struggle of the people against colonial rule.
The pro-foreign capital Modi government would not like to see the anti-colonial nationalism alive or resurrected and hence, it needs to annihilate it, to ensure that the foreign corporations can ravage India and its resources. So, it becomes inevitable for the Modi regime to shatter the people’s unity by spreading communal vitriol, vilification and violence throughout the country. Kerala is no different. Therefore, to resist this evil design of the RSS and the Hindutva camp, which makes the Muslims and other minority communities its scapegoat to reach the highest altar of power, it’s necessary to revive the anti-colonial nationalist sentiment among the Indian people across religious and caste identity against the neo-colonial drive started through the FDI and FII routes, against the big foreign corporations, banks and their crony-comprador Indian subsidiaries. Through a broad patriotic struggle against the big foreign and domestic corporations, a mammoth struggle which will knit closely the very communities the RSS and the Hindutva camp are attempting hard to pit against each other, the vicious and despicable programme of the RSS and the BJP can be resisted, stalled and defeated.
Hadiya is not alone today in her battle for her right to live her life according to her free will, millions of people, in the farmlands, in the factories, on the streets and at each and every nook and corner of the country is today joining, gradually but firmly, a broad struggle to resist the Hindutva fascist hegemony and its draconian and repressive system. The broad masses of the poor, the workers, the peasants, the working and toiled people, who are facing severe difficulties in securing two meals a day for their family, are feeling the heat of the fascist rule and sooner or later they will have no option, but to plunge into the broad democratic and patriotic struggle against Hindutva camp. By bullying and intimidating thousands of women like Hadiya, the Hindutva camp won’t be able to protect its inevitable doom in the not-so-far future.