The plot of The Kerala Story, a Hindi-language film, directed by Sudipto Sen and produced by Vipul Amrutlal Shah, follows the story of a group of women from Kerala, who have converted to Islam and joined the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. In other words, the movie is about reality of Love Jihad. However, both the ruling CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and Opposition Union Democratic Front (UDF) are opposing the film tooth and nail. What is shocking is that both Fronts started shouting at the top of their voice against the film – released on May 5 in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam languages also – on the ground that it is meant to kill secularism! Members of the Front had only seen the teaser of the movie. Still, both Fronts have been calling for banning it.
On second thoughts, CPM looks like reconciling with the ground realities. The party members find it difficult to justify their blatant ‘double standards’ in their present approach towards The Kerala Story and the stand they took two-three months back with respect to the BBC documentary India: The Modi Question. When BJP and RSS-inspired organisations opposed the movie, both LDF and UDF were in chorus to support the screening of the BBC documentary. At that time, “Freedom of Expression” was the slogan they raised to support their argument. Now, they find it hard to show even an iota of justification for their double standards.
Widows Justify Islamic Radicalisation
Shockingly, the Indian widows of jihadis who joined ISIS are of the view that the terror unleashed by their husbands has been decided by Allah
A video of Indian women who joined ISIS surfaced on the internet in 2020. The video comprised accounts of Sonia Sebastian, aka Ayisha and Nimisha aka Fathima, narrating how the new converts have made inroads into Tora Bora from Kerala. Both women disclosed that they would like to return to Kerala and that their husbands were killed in Afghanistan.
Sonia Sebastian, a Christian girl from Kerala who married Abdul Rashid, an ISIS terrorist assassinated in Afghanistan, went to Khorasan to live an Islamic life under the Caliphate but ‘her expectations were not met’ once she reached there.
“I came to Khorasan in 2016. We were expected to live an Islamic life, under Islamic law. Now, I want to return to India, to my husband’s family,” Sonia could be heard saying in the video.
Sonia embraced Islam and adopted the name Ayesha. She was among the 21 men and women from Kerala who left India in batches to join ISIS in Khorasan in Afghanistan. Her husband had been identified as the main conspirator for Islamic State recruitment from Kerala.
“We believe in Qadr (pre-destination). Whatever happened, both good and bad, came from Allah. We are expected to be pleased with whatever Allah designed for us,” Sonia replied says when asked whether she regretted what happened.
Nimisha, a dentist from Thiruvananthapuram, was a Hindu before converting to Islam. Her husband Eesa was a Christian before accepting Islam. They later joined ISIS in Afghanistan. Nimisha said that she would love to visit her mother provided she is not arrested.
In the video, Nimisha said that Allah will take care of her child if she was killed in the jihad. She said that she led a happy life with her husband in Khorasan until his death. More than 1,400 men, women and children (Sonia, Nimisha and their children) surrendered to the Afghan Government in November and December, 2019. Both Sonia and Nimisha long to return to India and have cut her all their connections with the Islamic State. However, Strat News Global, an agency that uploaded the video, question viewers: Are they genuinely disillusioned with the ‘ Islamic State’? and Do they pose a security risk? n
Meanwhile, members of the Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK) have stated that banning The Kerala Story was not at all useful because the audience would watch the film when it releases on OTT. FEUOK office bearer Suresh Shenoy, who is also owner of a movie house complex in Kochi, opined that banning a film is not a good precedent; it is akin to censorship.
Kerala CM’s False Accusation
In a Facebook post on April 30, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan falsely accused the Sangh Parivar of making this movie to spread lies. But, his senior party colleague and LDF convenor EP Jayarajan opined that banning the movie is not a solution. CPM State Secretary MV Govindan passes the buck to the Government. He said it is up to the Government to take action.
Cong Supports State Government
Congress is trying to make its presence felt in the Southern State. Congress leader and the UDF convenor MM Hassan told the media that ‘they can sell the tickets, but, let us see who is going to watch it.’ He does not miss the chance to flatter CPM supremo and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. He says how can the movie be screened if the State Chief Minister says ‘no.’
Battle For Justice
Nimisha, a victim of Love Jihad, left scars on her family. Her distraught mother, Bindu Sambat, yearns to get her daughter back to India. She narrated her pain and ugly menace of Love Jihad during an earlier interview with ‘Organiser’
Bindu Sambat, a housewife from Attingal in Kerala, is an anguished mother. She has been running from pillar to post to get her child since 2016.
Bindu’s testimony to Organiser revealed how Islamic radicalisation has spread its pernicious influence in the Southern State for the past decade. Her daughter Nimisha, a BDS student, was taken away by a Jihadi group linked with ISIS to Afghanistan. Since then, Bindu has been knocking doors of high officials seeking a helping hand to bring her daughter back.
An ordinary Hindu woman without much exposure to the outside world, Bindu said she was too late to realise that her daughter had fallen prey to Love Jihad. She is just one of many devastated mothers who live with the trauma of being separated from their beloved daughters. But unlike others, she dared to take on the menace that has been haunting Kerala society for quite a long time.
During the interaction, Bindu opened up on the much-suppressed yet important chapter in her daughter’s life. Though Nimisha married Bekson aka Isa, another Muslim youth tried to trap her into Love Jihad. “Sajjad Rahman was a classmate of Nimisha in a medical entrance coaching centre, Thiruvananthapuram. He was after my daughter and even she complained about that to my son several times. Her friends later revealed that the relationship between Sajjad and Nimisha developed further in the next two years when she was in Kasaragod,” she recalled.
Threat to Mother From Islamist
Sajjad’s role in radicalisation of her daughter is quite apparent. “Later, I came to know that Sajjad’s mother had taken my daughter to the Salafi Centre in Statue Junction, Thiruvananthapuram. She insisted that Nimisha should convert to Islam if she wanted to marry Sajjad,” said Bindu.
The sobbing mother continues, “She became pregnant. Conceding to the persuasion of Sajjad, she underwent an abortion in a hospital in Mangalore. Her daughter was good at studies. She cannot figure out why her daughter weaned away from Hinduism.
Later on, a police officer also admitted that he was aware of Sajjad Rahman’s role in 2015 itself. “Sajjad threatened me claiming that he has high influence in the Kerala Police and nobody can even touch him. Now he is practising as a doctor in JIPMER medical college and has married another girl,” said the distraught mother.
Bindu alleges that certain faculty members of The Century Medical College, run by a Muslim management, also played a pivotal role in this whole affair.
Describing her daughter as an easy target for Love Jihad, Bindu said Nimisha was a stage performer, a State-level award winner in Bhagavad Gita chanting and a Bharatanatyam performer. “Moreover, she did her schooling from an eminent institute known for inculcating Hindu spiritual wisdom with modern education,” said the mother.
However, Bindu recalled a strange incident which fuelled her suspicion. “On November 16 (in 2015), my son called her on the phone but she didn’t answer. After several attempts, she attended my call but handed over the phone to her classmate Mariam Ebin Jacob, wife of Yahiya,” she says. Yahiya (Betson, before getting converted to Islam) appears in the later part as Nimisha’s brother-in-law.
Next day, she met the then State Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, and filed a police complaint. However, once the police took over the case, everything turned upside down and it escalated out of control.
Bindu remembered a group of Muslims including Yahiya, who was later assassinated in Afghanistan while fighting for ISIS, present outside the court, which did not rule in her favour.
Thereafter, Bindu couldn’t correspond with her daughter. “Hoping that she would respond to me, I used to leave a post on Facebook asking her whereabouts daily. I started getting replies after 55 days. She told me she is in Palakkad, Kerala, with her husband’s family. I managed to get her address and reached there. The parents of my daughter’s husband are Christians but both their sons converted to Islam.”
The mother remembered the day when Isa called her to inform her about their departure for abroad. “One fine morning, Isa called me on the phone and said they were going to Sri Lanka for carpet business’.
Immediately, she contacted his parents, who too reiterated the same. “The real culprits were his parents. With the connivance of his father and step-mother, he sold his property worth Rs 60 lakhs.” Later, Bindu learned that they used the amount to meet the travel expenses of the 21 people who migrated to Afghanistan-Syria to join ISIS. As soon as the conversation ended, Bindu got a call from Isa claiming that the couple was safe. “This shows that there was proper communication between Isa and his family,” said Bindu.
Subsequently, Bindu continued receiving audio messages on WhatsApp until July 4, 2016. Thereafter no messages at all.
On July 8, 2016, Bindu visited ADGP Sreelekha (IPS) at her office but her lack of sensitivity was apparent. “They might have gone for a honeymoon trip. May be they are observing Eid al-Fitr!”
She headed for Palakkad again to meet the parents of Bekson aka Isa, her son-in-law. His stepmother said, “Your daughter was taken to Afghanistan and she would be used as a human bomb!” Her words fell on Bindu’s ears as a bolt from the blue.
“I have lost all faith in the State Police. I want to fight the case in the Supreme Court, but I have heard that it costs too much. I am a trustee of Attukal Devi Temple, known as the Sabarimala of women. A beautician by profession, Bindu says she has got more than 6500 wedding make up works in her 26-year-long professional life. But in the last year, she received only one make-up work. Now I am abandoned by our own people. My own people are isolating me. I have not been invited for a single marriage function for the last one year. All I have done is I came out openly against the injustice meted out to my daughter. If our own people don’t support me, whom should I approach? I don’t know anything about religion or politics. All I know is I want to get my daughter back,” the hapless mother lamented.
There have been several Love Jihad cases in Kerala, even though it is not an officially acknowledged terminology. Some parents even tell the media that their children have joined IS with their boyfriends or husbands. Since their names are familiar in the media, people cannot forget them easily. Still both LDF and UDF try to simplify the issue. The Government does not move a single finger against Kaakkukali drama even though the high priests of Christian churches have demanded to ban it as it is an insult to Christianity. The film once again proves that both LDF and UDF are in tight competition to grab the Muslim votes. Otherwise, what on earth makes them think and say that a movie against the IS and anti-national forces is against the secular fabric of the society and leads to polarisation and divide.