The Kozhikode police on Tuesday arrested a 19-year-old who has been accused of sexually assaulting his 18-year-old classmate after drugging her. The surrender and arrest of Mohammad Jasim, however, has been mired in controversy after the young woman’s father, a Christian, accused Jasim of threatening his daughter to convert to Islam.
According to a complaint by the woman’s father, Jasim met her at the Sarovaram Biopark in the city on July 25, drugged her, sexually assaulted her and captured this on video to threaten her. He also alleged that more girls could have been trapped by Jasim and others.
The Kozhikode police had received flak for not registering an FIR till August 5 and not arresting the man till there was a hue and cry around the issue. It was only on Tuesday that Jasim finally surrendered.
Kozhikode Police Commissioner, however, said that this was not a case of ‘love jihad’ as claimed by the father. “The two were in the same institute, she was a year junior. They had been in a relationship. The girl said that he gave her something to drink. The events following that are hazy in her mind. However, she has not converted to Islam. We are looking into the allegation that he threatened her to convert,” the Commissioner told TNM.
Meanwhile, AK Jamaludheen, Deputy Commissioner of Police, told the media that according to the young woman's statement, Jasim insisted that he would marry her only if she converted to Islam.
The father denied all these statements and told the media that the duo had never been in a relationship. “If that is so, why did she scream and run from there?” he asked. He told the National Commission for Women that this was not a ‘simple blackmailing case’.
Meanwhile, for the first time, the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council’s (KCBC) Commission for Social Harmony and Vigilance has urged the government to probe the forcible conversion of Christian girls in the state.
KCBC deputy secretary general and official spokesperson Father Varghese Vallikkatt alleged that the police failed to probe the Kozhikode sexual assault case in detail.
Father Vallikkatt said in a statement, “Earlier there were allegations that some secret gangs were working in the state to do forcible conversions under the banner of love marriage. The government must probe any connection with the recent forcible conversion bid in Kozhikode.”
“The police failed to conduct a detailed investigation into the forcible conversion issue. The lack of probe affects the credibility of the police force. The church is pained by the recent incidents. We suspect that some groups are targeting Christian girls,” he added.
“We want the government to probe the forcible conversions in the state. In a mixed society, love marriage is a common thing. But forcible conversions is not a positive sign. The church is concerned about the forcible conversion of Christian girls in the state,” said a senior priest belonging to the Syro Malabar Church.
Church sources said KCBC’s Social Harmony and Vigilance Commission plans to address the issue by conducting awareness campaigns about the forcible conversions.
Meanwhile, George Kurian, vice-chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), has written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah claiming that Christian girls are a “target” for Islamic terror recruiters in Kerala. In his letter, Kurian asked the union government to take serious action on the matter and order an investigation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and bring in an effective law to curb such unlawful activities.
“As per KCBC data, over 2,600 Christian girls converted to Islam in between 2006 and 2009. Reports said that out of 21 people who joined the IS from Kerala, five had converted to Islam from the Christian community. The KCBC magazine ‘Jagratha’ published by the church pointed out that around 4,000 girls have been subjected to religious conversion in the 2005-2012 period,” Kurian stated in the letter.