Religious conversion: Fresh allegations turn heat on PFI

Religious conversion: Fresh allegations turn heat on PFI

As the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is set for a fresh round of questioning on allegations of forced conversions to Islam in Kerala, the Popular Front of India (PFI) maintained that it was being targeted as part of a "vilification campaign".

The NIA is likely to question A S Zainaba, president of the National Women's Front - the PFI's women's wing - in the wake of fresh allegations on organised conversions to Islam.

The move follows a television sting operation which had Zainaba "admitting" to have coordinated mass proselytism at Sathya Sarani, a Malappuram-based organisation registered as an educational and charitable trust.

On Wednesday, state police chief Loknath Behera had directed the intelligence wing to collect details of the TV report and initiate follow-up action.

A source in the Kochi unit of the NIA said the agency was preparing for the questioning.

Zainaba, identified as a key figure in other cases of religious conversion, had earlier been questioned by the NIA in connection with the "love jihad" case involving the conversion of Hadiya (Akhila) to Islam and her now-annulled marriage with a Muslim man, Shafin Jahan.  

Zainaba said on Thursday that she had nothing to hide since the TV report discussed activities of Sathya Sarani that she had herself discussed openly with the media and investigation agencies including the NIA.

"The figure they talk about (5,000 conversions in 10 years) is the number of students who completed the course in Islam from the centre. They include Muslims as well as converts," she told DH.

The Sathya Sarani website lists "Propagation of Islam among non-Muslims" as an objective.

Hadiya's father K M Ashokan contended in the Supreme Court that Zainaba, through Sathya Sarani, was actively involved in religious conversion/indoctrination of young women. She also arranged Hadiya's marriage with Shafin Jahan which was annulled by the Kerala High Court in May this year.

Zainaba said she had, during the NIA's first round of questioning, informed the agency about Sathya Sarani's activities and reiterated that Hadiya had converted to Islam before she met her. The Supreme Court has directed Ashokan to produce Hadiya for an open-court hearing on the case, on November 27.

Following the fresh allegations, the BJP has targeted the CPM-led state government over its "soft" handling of the issue. BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan urged the government to close down Sathya Sarani.

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