‘The Kerala Story’
The trailer for Sudipto Sen’s film ‘The Kerala Story’ was released on April 26th, 2023, and the much-awaited film is set to release on May 5th, 2023, in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam languages. Produced and creatively directed by Vipul Amrutlal Shah, the film stars Adah Sharma, Yogita Bihani, Sonia Balani, and Siddhi Idnani in the lead roles. The film is based on the true stories of Hindu and Christian girls in Kerala who were trapped into love jihad by Islamists and later sent to Iraq and Syria to become ISIS terrorists.
The Tragic Reality of Love Jihad and ISIS Recruitment in Kerala
The trailer of ‘The Kerala Story’ presents a dramatic representation of the heartbreaking and gut-wrenching stories of 32,000 women from Kerala who were radicalized to join ISIS. The film depicts how innocent Hindu girls are systematically trapped into love jihad and converted to Islam with the motive of sending them to the terrorist organization ISIS. The role of Muslim clerics in radicalization is also highlighted in it. The girls converted through this modus operandi are then trafficked to ISIS-hit middle eastern countries under the pretext of getting jobs or by directly brainwashing them for jihad. The converted girls from Kerala were used by terrorists for various terror activities and also as sex slaves.
Authentic and Unbiased Portrayal Promised by Makers
The makers of ‘The Kerala Story’ promise an authentic, unbiased, and truthful portrayal of the events that shocked Kerala. Director Sudipto Sen visited the region, including some Arab nations, talked with residents and the relatives of the victims, and was astounded by what he saw. The trailer of the film is both matter-of-fact and powerful in its stance, presenting this gruesome story on the big screen, supported by 4 years of exhaustive study.
Opposition to Film and Accusations of Misinformation
‘The Kerala Story’ has faced opposition right from the teaser release, with Congress demanding a ban on the movie in November 2022. Congress leader and leader of the opposition in Kerala Assembly VD Satheesan said the film spreads misinformation and should be banned. Tamil Nadu-based journalist Aravindakshan BR also requested the Central Board of Film Certification to place a ban on the film unless director Sudipto Sen and producer Vipul Amrutal Shah submit documents confirming the veracity of the information presented in the teaser. Even before the trailer launch, Aravindakshan posted a thread of tweets accusing the film of presenting misinformation to sow religious hatred among the people.
The Scale of Conversion and Radicalization of Women in Kerala
Since 2009, approximately 32,000 females from the Hindu and Christian faiths in Kerala and Mangalore have converted to Islam. Many of these girls eventually end up in regions with a high concentration of ISIS and Haqqani influence, such as Syria and Afghanistan. This issue gained widespread attention in 2016 when Mini Vijayan, a military official, alleged that her daughter Aparna had been forcibly converted to Islam. Investigations revealed that Aparna and other converted women were associated with the Sathyasarani Trust in Malappuram, which claimed that the girls were there to study religion.
ISIS Involvement and Recruitment in Kerala
ISIS involvement in Kerala was initially traced in 2013, with modules encouraging religious conversions and aiming to attract professionals to join its troops in Afghanistan and Syria. The United Nations warned in its 2020 terrorism report that there are a substantial number of ISIS terrorists in the Indian state of Kerala. The National Investigation Agency has filed a charge sheet revealing a strong association between ISIS terrorists active and growing in the state. Several non-Muslim women have also been radicalized and converted in the last few years and have been sent to Afghanistan and Syria to fight for the Islamic State. The NIA is currently investigating cases related to IS operating recruitment centers in Kerala.
The Malappuram Connection and Sathyasarani Trust
The Malappuram-based Markazul Hidaya Educational and Charitable Trust, also known as the Sathyasarani Trust, appears to be the unifying theme connecting these conversions and “education.” Individuals associated with this center included Aparna, Hadiya (Akhila), and the ladies who traveled to join ISIS. The NIA testified in court that Hadiya’s conversion and marriage to Shafeen Jahan were not unrelated events but rather a result of a planned operation by Sathyasarani and PFI. A sting operation against Sathyasarani and PFI revealed that the founding member of PFI acknowledged on video that their ultimate objective is to turn India into an Islamic state. The records of 70 Hindu and Christian girls’ conversions were found during an investigation by law enforcement officials.
The Extent of Radicalization and Conversion Centers in Kerala
Sathyasarani is just one of several institutions in Kerala that have been implicated in the radicalization and conversion of women from the Hindu and Christian faiths to Islam. Zakir Naik’s Islamic Research Foundation is the primary source of literature used by 95% of these brainwashing centers. According to government statistics, 5,975 people in the state converted to Islam between 2011 and 2015, with 1,410 people converting in 2015 alone. Shockingly, women under the age of 35 make up 76% of the new converts.
Legal Issues Surrounding Forced Conversions
Forced conversions in Kerala are similar to incidents in Sindh, Pakistan, with the only difference being that victims are now adults due to India’s strict laws against child marriage. As a result, cases are often dropped or stagnated because the girl and her Muslim husband are protected by the law for acting of their own free will. This creates challenges for family members and police who are unable to prove pressure or indoctrination without a clear confession from the girl.
Urgent Need for Action Against Radical Islam in Kerala
Radical Islam has taken deep roots in Kerala, with a large number of radicalization, conversion, and recruiting centers operating without garnering the attention of the national media. However, this is a matter of grave concern that requires urgent action from both state and union governments. In the post-ISIS world, using women as tools and weapons is no longer a secret. The release of the film ‘The Kerala Story’ brings hope that this serious issue will receive attention and lead to effective solutions to combat the problem.