(This is the text of the open letter from Prof. Satish Deshpande to the Chief Minister of Kerala on the Hadiya issue. Satish’s work Contemporary India, translated as Samakalika India, has been hugely influential in shaping the progressive understanding of Hindutva nationalism and communal hatred in Kerala.)
Shri Pinarayi Vijayan
6th October, 2017
Ever since I first came to Kerala in 1981 to study at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) at Thiruvanathapuram, I have been a committed supporter of everything that the left tradition of your great state has achieved by way of democratic innovations in governance and social practice. Even today, I believe that Kerala continues to be a shining example in many spheres where the rest of India lags far behind.
I was therefore shocked to read about the Hadiya case and the tacit and explicit state support that underwrite her virtual house arrest today. I am told that the man that Hadiya has chosen to marry and the organisation with which he is associated may have a questionable past. Whatever be the truth of this matter, the fact is that an adult citizen’s personal choices in matters like marriage cannot be undone by the state no matter how ill-considered that choice may appear to others. Moreover, in the current climate, it is surely not irrelevant that the religion in question is Islam – it is highly unlikely that this case would have attracted any attention if Hadiya had chosen to convert to some other religion.
It is highly embarrassing – to the say the least – that a government led by a party that can claim to have played a major role in transforming Kerala society for the better is today seen to be siding with the reactionary forces.
I appeal to you to use the power vested in you by the people of Kerala to end this travesty of justice and ensure that Hadiya is left free to live her life as she chooses.
With best wishes,
(Professor of Sociology, Delhi University)