KOZHIKODE: For long, this was something that would only be whispered in the corridors of power. More often than not, the principal players who scrutinised the issue continued to remain in denial mode. Now, after many years of vacillation, Kerala Police have admitted the state has been witnessing ‘Love Jihad’ for some time.
The confidential report has brought focus on a self-styled fundamentalist group called ‘Dawa Squad’ is actively converting youngsters in Kerala to Islam. It further says the squad targets youth from the Ezhava community more than any others.
For long, this was something that would only be whispered in the corridors of power. More often than not, the principal players, who scrutinised the issue, continued to remain in denial mode.
Now, after many years of vacillation, the Kerala Police have admitted that the state has been witnessing ‘Love Jihad’ for some time. The confidential report has brought focus on a self-styled fundamental group called ‘Dawa Squad’ is actively converting youngsters in Kerala into Islam. It further says the squad targets youth from the Ezhava community more than any others.
State police chief Loknath Behera admitted that Dawa Squad and Love Jihad were not the figment of anybody’s imagination. He said the police were gearing up to deal with the situation. “Radicalisation through conversion using various means is taking place in the state. We have formed specialised teams to track the related developments in an integrated manner,” Behera said.
According to the report compiled by the state police, 23 young professionals were converted to Islam in Thrissur district while the total number of converts in Palakkad was 139 in the last two years. The report, which presents a case study of a dozen conversion incidents in north Kerala, says the maximum conversions were taking place in Kannur, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad and Thrissur.
The report also warns the situation was fuelling communal tension between Hindus and Muslims as the ‘Dawa Squad’ was hatching plots to antagonise Hindu groups. ‘Dawa’ refers to proselytising; the squads target girls and youngsters, mainly those with CPI(M) affiliation and professional qualification, finds the probe.
A top-level meeting of the police officers and officers of Home Department is soon expected to discuss the findings of the report and chalk out an action plan. “The ‘Dawa Squad’ members are hardliners, specially trained to hide their strong religious practices in public even in their dressings. Many students and young professionals are members of this squad. They identify vulnerable targets from work place, social media and educational institutions before befriending them,” the report said.
Once the squad members establish strong connect with their target, they gradually curtail the target’s links with family members and other friends. “There are organised units which provide logistical and other necessary support to help the ‘Dawa Squad’ successfully complete an operation in each case,” the report said.
While the 2004 GO specified there were only two authorised organisations—Maunathul Islam Association in Ponnani and Therbiyathul Islam Sabha in Kozhikode—to issue certificate of conversion to Islam, the report says a dozen organisations were currently operating in Kerala to convert people to Islam offering money and other support.
What is Dawa Squad?
‘Dawa’ refers to proselytising; the squads target girls and youngsters, mainly those with CPI(M) affiliation and professional qualification. Its members are hardliners, specially trained to hide their strong religious practices in public.
Nimisha alias Fathima hailed from a Hindu family in Thiruvananthapuram got converted to Islam while studying at a dental college in Kasaragod district in November 2015.
Merlin alias Mariyam from Kochi, a Christian got converted while working in Mumbai in 2015. Both Nimisha and Merlin married two brothers, who converted from Christianity.
Sonia alias Ayisha, an engineering graduate who got converted from Christianity, married Abdul Rasheed, an engineer, and left for Syria along with him and two-year-old daughter.
The report has brought focus on a fundamental group called ‘Dawa Squad’.
It targets youth from the Ezhava community more than any others.
Most conversions in Kannur, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad & Thrissur.
Report Reinforces Senkumar’s Statement
Curiously, the latest report reinforces the essence of the much criticised statement by former state police chief T P Senkumar, who did not pull any punches while proclaiming ‘Love Jihad’ being a reality in Kerala. Even as Senkumar stood by his statement that was made soon after his retirement, it stoked much controversy. Later, it was given a political twist by some prominent LDF leaders who claimed Senkumar had revealed his true colours, and went on to deride him for his pro-Hindutva stance.
The recent Hadiya case too prompted the Kerala Police to conduct an in-depth probe into the religious conversions. The Kerala HC on May 25 declared null and void the marriage of 24-year-old Akhila, who became Hadiya after getting converted, with Shafeen Jahan in December 2016. The court also ordered she be placed in her parents’ custody. When Jahan moved the SC against the HC order, the SC ordered the NIA to probe the case. Following the SC verdict, the NIA registered an FIR and launched a probe.