India probing interfaith marriages over ‘terror threats’

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K M Ashokan (2-L), the father of 24-year-old Akhila, who converted to Islam in 2016 and took a new name, Hadiya, smokes while speaking with a friend, as police officers stand outside his house, at Vaikom in the Kottayam district of the southern state of Kerala, , on November 23, 2017. (Photo by Ruters)
Indian security officials have started interrogating interfaith couples, involving Muslims, with the declared aim of identifying potential sympathizers with the Daesh terrorist group.
Indian prosecutors said the country’s Supreme Court was scheduled on Monday to hear a case according to which Daesh advocates allegedly exploited marriages with Hindu women to win recruits for the Takfiri outfit in the Middle East.
Reports said India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) had selected dozens of interfaith couples in the southern state of Kerala over the past 28 months to question them about their exogamous marriages.
But there are indications that the campaign, reportedly influenced by the ideas of hard-line Hindu group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), may be a deliberate attempt at targeting Muslims.
The Hindu women who married Muslim men said they had been asked “extremely personal” questions during the interrogations, according to two police officers from the NIA.
Two NIA sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said after the investigation of 89 interfaith marriage cases was over that only nine had been found to have links with individuals affiliated with Daesh.
The sources claimed that in two of the cases, the agency was examining money sent from a religious school in Iraq to the women’s bank accounts, and in another case, a woman and her husband had shared Daesh videos among residents in Kerala.
Local police and the NIA have claimed that at least 100 people from Kerala have joined Daesh in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan over the past years.
The investigations have been met with criticism from Indian opposition parties, which argue that the government is allowing hard-line Hindus to use the state apparatus for establishing their dominance in India, where 13 percent of the population is Muslim.
M.B Rajesh, a federal lawmaker and member of the Communist Party of India, said the NIA and supporters of the interrogation case are trying to argue that marriages between Hindus and Muslims “are forced unions.”
Muslims constitute 172 million of India’s 1.32-billion-strong population.

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