National Commission for Women acting Chairperson Rekha Sharma, who is in Kerala on a fact-finding mission to study forced religious conversions in the state, has come down heavily on the state government.
In an interview to TNM, NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma said that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was like "an ostrich who is keeping his head buried in the sand."
"I have been here (in Kerala) for a few days, and I am aware that forceful conversion is taking place. The Chief Minister is still not taking the issue seriously. He might have seen the Aamir Khan movie, where he says 'All is well.' And is under the impression that all is well in the state," Rekha Sharma said.
Saying that the situation in Kerala was "grave", she called for immediate action from the part of the government.
"Neither the government nor other political parties are taking this seriously. They need to wake up," Rekha said.
Rekha said that there are young people who are forcefully converting "vulnerable women" and that these elements were receiving foreign funding.
"There are many young people who are forcefully converting vulnerable young women in Kerala, to another religion. These men must be getting financial assistance from outside India. The foreign funding behind the conversion of vulnerable young women in Kerala must be probed," Rekha pointed out.
"This is human trafficking," she added.
Rekha added that she would recommend an investigation by a specialised agency, to probe where the money for these conversions was coming from.
Not just individuals, but institutions that facilitate forced religious conversions should be probed too, Rekha added.
Asked about the alleged involvement of Popular Front of India (PFI) in facilitating religious conversions, Rekha said: "I have heard the name of agencies like 'Satyasarani' in Malappuram, where lot of such incidents occur. Such organisations should be investigated."
After meeting 25-year-old Hadiya, a Muslim convert whose marriage to a Muslim man was annulled by the Kerala High Court, Rekha had said that there was no "love jihad" in that case.
Speaking to TNM, Rekha said that the term 'Love Jihad' was not right, explaining: "Jihad can't come with love. How can there be jihad where there is love?"
Asked about her meeting with Hadiya, Rekha refused to divulge more information. However, she said that Hadiya was fasting for four days to be "mentally strong."
"Although Hadiya is "mentally weak, she is physically alright," Rekha said.
At the government guest house in Thiruvananthapuram's Thycaud, Rekha met Bindu Sampath, the mother of Nimisha (Fathima) who embraced Islam and later married a Muslim convert and went to Afghanisthan to allegedly join the ISIS.
After the meeting, Bindu told TNM: "It has been one year and five months since my daughter went missing. There is no update on the case at all. If I were able to go Afghanistan I could have done it."
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