Kerala HC rejects ‘love jihad’ claims; allows Jyolsna and Shejin to live together

The court observed that a 26-year-old girl was mature enough to choose her partner and court has limitations in interfering in individual choices

Jyolsna prays at a Church on Easter. Shejin posted this picture on his Facebook page while extending Easter day greetings to all

The High Court of Kerala has allowed Jyolsna Mary Joseph to live according to her free will and has let her go with Shejin, the Muslim boy she had eloped with. The habeas corpus petition against the couple had been filed by Joseph, Jyolsna’s father.

The court observed that the 26-year-old girl was mature enough to choose her partner. “She is educated and has worked abroad. The court has limitations in interfering in the individual choices of people,” observed the division bench of the High Court.

Jyolsna and Shijin appealed to the public to end the controversies and to let them live in peace. “I will not be talking to my father now as he is not in a mood to understand what I say, I will talk to him sometime in future,” Jyolsna told the media when she came out of the court on Tuesday.

A lie that lit a storm

Jyolsna, a native of Kodancherry in Kozhikode, left home as she wanted to marry Shejin MS with whom she was in a relationship for a few months. When she was found missing, her sister contacted her over phone and Jyolsna told her that she was with Shejin and he was not letting her go. Jyolsna later explained to the media that what she had told her sister was an ‘instant lie’ as she was scared to inform them that she had eloped with Shejin, who’s a leader of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of CPI-M, and a branch committee member of the party.

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However, her lie stirred up a storm and Shejin was accused of Love Jihad. A group of people, including nuns, staged a protest march to the local police station and demanded a probe into the incident. In the midst of all this came a statement from former MLA and CPI-M leader George M Thomas. He said that ‘Love Jihad’ was a reality and there was a need to probe into it. His statement caused huge embarrassment for the ruling CPI-M, which always maintained the position that ‘Love Jihad’ was only a right-wing myth being used by BJP for political gains. However, DYFI came up with a categorical statement that Thomas was wrong and Love Jihad was only a ‘manufactured lie’. Later Thomas corrected his statement and said that what he had said was a mistake.

Public appearances

Jyolsna and Shejin appeared before the Magistrate’s court and said that they were in love and wanted to get married. The couple appeared on television channels several times and repeated that they had got together on their free will and there was no external compulsion. Jyolsna publicly expressed regret for lying to her sister and said she had never expected that such a ‘simple lie’ would create communal tension.

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Shejin repeatedly told the media that he was not a believer and said that Jyolsna was free to follow her faith. He even posted on his Facebook page pictures of Jyolsna praying at the Church and wished Easter day greetings to all.

However, Love Jihad proponents did not back down. A group called CASA (Christian Assocation for Social Action), which is known for its extremist position, asserted that it was a case of Love Jihad. CASA supported Jyolsna’s father in moving a habeas corpus petition in the High Court, claiming that Jyolsna ‘was brainwashed and trapped’.

Concern over ‘incident’

Deepika Daily, the oldest Malayalam newspaper which is the voice of the Syro Malabar Church in Kerala, in an editorial today expressed concern over the ‘Kodancherry incident’. The editorial argued that Christian parents have great concern over Muslim men marrying Christian girls. The paper demanded that ‘facts about the marriage of Jyolsna and Shijin’ should be probed.

On the other hand, DYFI expressed solidarity with the couple. They were given a warm welcome at the office of the organisation at Thiruvananthapuram. CPI-M Polit Bureau member M A Baby and State Youth Commission Chairperson Chintha Jerome also visited the couple and expressed their solidarity. Finally, it seems it’s time for Jyolsna and Shejin to start a life of their choice.

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