Hadiya, a woman from Kerala at the centre of a controversy about her marriage to a Muslim man and conversion to Islam, has a strict life of minimum exposure to the outside world awaiting her at her college hostel where she will continue her homeopathy studies under her her Hindu name – Akhila Ashokan.
The Supreme Court yesterday freed her from the custody of her parents, but the college rules aren't a walk in the park either.
Hadiya, 25, flew to Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu from Delhi and headed to Salem by road. She was accompanied by the Kerala police, and is due to undergo a 11-month internship in homeopathy at the Sivaraj Medical College in Salem, about 170 km from Coimbatore. She was not permitted to speak to the media at the airport in Coimbatore.
A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra turned down her plea that she should be allowed to go with her husband Shafin Jahan who would pay for all expenses for her internship course.
Salem medical College Principal G Kannan said Hadiya will be treated as one of the inmates of the hostel and that no special treatment will be accorded to her.
The rules of the hostel are strict.
The Indian Express quoted Kannan as saying that while previously students were allowed to use cellphones in the hostel for only an hour a day, in light of this sensitive case, he was thinking of banning phones for all students staying in the hostel.
"Since they are here to study, a phone with the warden is more than enough," he said. The hostel does not have a television set. Students have to report to college at 8:45 am and lights are turned off at 10:30 pm.
According to the report, once a week, students are allowed to go out for shopping, but never unescorted. The warden accompanies them. It must be mentioned here that the students are all above the age of 18.
Kannan has also told the paper that he will not allow "anyone except her parents" to meet her. And when parents come to meet her, "we will make sure that I or an official are present."
Hadiya was in the custody of her parents for almost six months after the Kerala High Court had on 29 May anulled her 'nikah' with Shafin Jahan.
"Hadiya does not have any idea about Syria, where she wanted to go after converting to Islam. I cannot have a terrorist in the family."
Deputy Commissioner of Police Subbbulakshmi, who held a meeting with college authorities in Salem, told reporters that adequate protection will be given to the woman. Hadiya's father welcomed the apex court decision allowing her to continue her studies and said he did not want a terrorist in the family
Hadiya, KM Ashokan said, wanted to go to Syria after converting to Islam but had no idea about what it entailed.
"Hadiya does not have any idea about Syria, where she wanted to go after converting to Islam," he said, adding "I cannot have a terrorist in the family."
Ashokan said he was sad that his daughter had to undergo all the unpleasant experiences because of which her studies were interrupted. "But now I am happy as the court has allowed her to study further," Ashokan told reporters in Delhi.
He denied allegations that she had been kept under house arrest and added, "She was fully surrounded by police inside and outside the house." Ashokan said he was not worried about her security in Salem as she was now under the protection and observation of the apex court.
"I accept the Supreme Court's decision. She is under the protection of the Supreme Court as it is monitoring the case and so I am not worried about her security," he said.
He also said he would go to Salem and meet her as and when necessary as the court had allowed him to do so. "The court has not given anyone guardianship, including Shafin Jahan, of my child," Ashokan said, adding that only close relatives like him were allowed by the court.
The apex court, which yesterday interacted with Hadiya for nearly half-an-hour in the courtroom against the wishes of her father who had sought an in-camera interaction, had directed the Kerala police to provide her security and ensure that she travels at the earliest to Salem to pursue her homeopathy studies.
(With PTI inputs)