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Women's rights activists have appealed to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to extend state protection to Hadiya -- the woman at the centre of a religious conversion row. Hadiya, earlier known as Akhila, was a Hindu woman who converted into Islam and married Shafin Jahan.
Her father approached the Kerala High Court which declared the marriage null and void calling it a case of "love jihad" and directed that Hadiya return to the protective custody of her Hindu parents. The activists, comprising academicians, authors, women's collectives and women's right advocates, have urged the Kerala chief minister as well as the State Commission for Women to ensure that the woman is not forcibly confined in her parents' house. "It is alarming to have an adult woman today to be ordered into protective custody of her parent's home under the orders of a court, denied mobility, communication and the company of her friends and well wishers," the activists said in their letters to the CM and the state commission. In the letter, they also appealed to the commission to visit Hadiya, asses the nature of human rights violation she is facing, and make public a report on her condition. The activists, including publisher Urvashi Butalia, DU professor Nandini Sundar, JNU professors Ayesha Kidwai and Nivedita Menon, and Suneeta Dhar among others, have sought that "Hadiya be brought under the protection of the state, perhaps in a shelter in consultation with her". They also demanded that the state women commission and the LDF government ensure that Hadiya is able to meet friends and well wishers and allowed access to a phone. In August, Hadiya's husband approached the Supreme Court challenging the high court order and seeking that Hadiya, who is in her fathers custody, be produced before the court. Hearing the case, the apex court directed the National Investigation Agency to investigate the alleged forced conversion. Earlier this month, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra questioned the annulment of the marriage by the Kerala HC in May as well as the NIA probe ordered by a SC bench led by former CJI JS Khehar.