The reports that are now surfacing related to the Sivasakti Yoga Charitable Trust also known as Aarsha Vidya Samajam functioning in Kandanad, Udayamperoor in Ernakulam are shocking.
The institution coerces Hindu women, who converted to other religions or married men belonging to different faiths to return to their faith, under the guise of conducting yoga, spirituality classes and counselling. The brutalities carried out at the centre came to light after a woman, an Ayurvedic doctor hailing from Kannur who married a Christian man, filed a complaint with the Hill Palace police station in Tripunithura. Reports have surfaced that the institution adopts methods including cruel physical assaults to force women to leave their partners belonging to a different religion and return to their faith (Ghar Wapasi).
The woman told the media that there were about 65 other women who have been illegally confined and tortured at the centre. The High Court on Monday heard the Habeas corpus petition (HCP) filed by the woman’s husband. The court while considering the complaint, asked if there were Gurmeet Ram Rahims popping up in Kerala. On Tuesday, the woman described her ordeal at the centre before the High Court division bench. The court which observed that shocking incidents have been taking place at the centre, ordered to make the yoga centre, CI of Hill Palace, Udayamperoor SI as well as state and district police chiefs, a party in the case. Other women who escaped from the centre also shared their sufferings with the media. These reports were shocking to all those who consider the right of the citizens to choose freely, as something sacred.
The state government and the ruling party have been approaching the issue - which triggered rampant discourses in the society, a matter in which even the High Court has expressed concern- with absolute indifference. Although four days have passed since the reports of harassment surfaced, no one responsible on the part of government, has responded to the issue. The Left wing youth organisations and women organisations that take special interest to intervene in such matters have maintained a silence. When the news about a centre that confine and torture women who opted for interfaith marriages surface, the Left wing youth organisations usually doesn’t keep quiet.
But the fact is that none has issued any statements in the matter. Although a notice has been issued by the Congress-ruled Udayamperoor panchayat asking to the Ghar Wapasi centre demanding a shutdown, the centre is still functioning. The panchayat has sent the notice citing lack of required license. However, it is the state police that should be taking measures regarding the allegations of the criminal nature of the centre. There have been rampant criticisms that the state police have been showing a soft stance in matters related to the Sangh Parivar. The aspersions that the police have been adopting the same soft stance in the matters related to the Ghar Wapasi centre isn’t wrong.
An individual is free to choose his or her own religious belief and its the same in the case of marriage as well. Nobody can be compelled to follow the same faith he was born into, his whole life. Even the parents who could only wish their children to marry those belonging to the same faith, don’t always necessarily see their wishes come true. Parents as well as the believers have the right to be upset and annoyed when their dreams are shattered; when their children abandon their faiths. But those annoyances shouldn’t grow to such levels as to violate the personal liberty of others. If the organisations to protect families and religion cross their limits by carrying out criminal activities against others, it’s surely an attack on our Constitutional values.
Unfortunately, such attacks are on the rise in Kerala. The State even witnessed an incident in which a youth was murdered for converting into another religion. Maintaining an indifference towards such criminal activities carried out under the pretext of safeguarding the dignity of family and religion, doesn’t suit a Left government. The Sangh Parivar and the media that back their agenda carry out an aggressive campaign at the national level related to religious conversion. It’s true that such campaigns create fissures in the society. However, the government wary of such campaigns, should not back out from the legal moves to be followed. It would only pave way for more chaos in the society.