Theni woman fears honour killing after converting to Islam
The high court's directive comes a day after the state government transferred the case from the state police to the CBI. Photo: PTI

Theni woman fears 'honour killing' after converting to Islam

A 24-year-old woman from Theni has approached the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court, seeking police protection against her parents who have allegedly threatened her of ‘honour killing’ after she told them that she had converted to Islam.

The court while allowing her petition to be heard on September 13, ordered police protection for the woman.

Petitioner Keerthana, who has described herself as a Hindu-thevar piramalai Kallar by birth in her petition, told the court that her parents had kept her under house arrest for the past one-and-a-half-years, after she informed them about her “voluntary” conversion to Islam. She alleged that she was beaten up and threatened with dire consequences and she had to put up with the ‘torture’ till she got an opportunity to lodge a complaint against her parents.

“My life is in danger and my parents have threatened to kill me for family pride,” Keerthana said in her petition.

Madurai police said Keerthana, while pursuing her B.Ed course at Theni-based Saraswathi college of Education was drawn to Islam and its tenets after befriending a few students from the community. She had started reading the Quran and practising principles of the religion.

Keerthana in her petition has said that she has now taken the name of Shaheed Zainab Fathima and will soon get her Muslim name registered through an affidavit.

The petition also accused the Madurai police of taking the side of her parents instead of safeguarding her liberty. “Despite the fact that she is a major the police had acted as an agency for the parents instead of safeguard(ing) her liberty,” the petition said.  She has also alleged of being constantly called to the police station for enquiry.

G Pethuraj, inspector-in-charge of Anna Nagar police station in Madurai denied the allegations. He said people who seek police protection often resort to “false reasons” to strengthen their case. He said the petitioner wasn’t clear about her address of residence which confused police when they wanted to give her protection.

“Initially, she gave me Kazimar Street as her address where she demanded police protection. But later in the court she told the judge that she needs police protection only when she leaves Madurai on September 13 to live in an accommodation provided by a Muslim organisation outside the city,” he said. Later even that was turned down by her as she would be living away from her parents.

There are conflicting reports about the current whereabouts of Keerthana. Lajapathy Roy, her lawyer says she is living with a friend at an undisclosed destination in Madurai. Inspector Pethuraj said she had left Madurai and is put up at an accommodation provided by Darul Islam Foundation Trust in Kumbakonam. However, he denied to disclose further details about the petitioner.

Pethuraj says the petitioner’s insecurity may have prevented her from disclosing her real address to the police.

During the open hearing of the case on September 13, the parents of the petitioner had requested the judge to let them know about the whereabouts of their daughter and with whom she was staying.

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