Dalit activist Chithra Lekha’s decision to become Muslim invites trouble from state and media

She noted on social media that she is thinking about converting to Islam after being "tired of standing alone against CPI (M)’s violence and caste discrimination"
Dalit activist Chithra Lekha’s decision to become Muslim invites trouble from state and media

In a Facebook post, Dalit activist Chithra Lekha said that she is thinking about choosing Islam over the “identity she had lived with until now”. This does not come as a shock to anyone who had heard of her ordeals at the hands of ‘progressive political outfits’. She says, “I have faced violence from CPI (M) because I was a Pulaya woman and I questioned their caste discrimination. They have not allowed me to work peacefully, and I have had to migrate from my own home.”

Dalit activist Chithra Lekha’s decision to become Muslim invites trouble from state and media
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She recalls that she had decided to convert to Islam because she has lost hope of justice from the government and the judiciary. “I have made a stand against CPI (M)’s violence for over twenty years, and I have come to this decision as I cannot fight them anymore.” However, her decision to convert has possibly introduced more problems into her life. A media organisation had interviewed her following the Facebook post, and in it, she says that SDPI (Social Democratic Party of India) and Popular Front of India (PFI) had agreed to help her. However, the problem is when the media secretly recorded the part where she claims that the Popular Front offered her a house, job, and financial support.

പുലയ സ്ത്രീയായി ജനിച്ചത് കൊണ്ടും സിപിഎം എന്ന ഒരു രാഷ്ട്രീയ പാർട്ടിയുടെ ജാതിവിവേചന ത്തിനെ ചോദ്യം ചെയ്തത് കൊണ്ടും ...

Posted by Chithra Lekha on Sunday, November 15, 2020

Addressing this media report, both Popular Front and Chithra Lekha denied the allegations. In another Facebook post, she said that she is moving to Islam and not to a Muslim organisation. She admits that the PFI had offered her financial support but she adds that it didn’t influence her since she is capable of making a decision alone. She also mentions that she had received previous support from Oommen Chandy when he was the chief minister and IUML leader KM Shaji.

Meanwhile, CP Muhammed Basheer of Popular Front had told the media organisation that they had no need to use financial favours to pull someone to Islam and they wouldn’t do it. Basheer questioned the usage of a secret camera and added that the visuals are devoid of context to properly assume anything. He said that the organisation is financially helping Chithra Lekha separate from her decision to move to Islam and that it was evident from her Facebook post.

Apart from possible media misinterpretation, the government machinery has also decided to interfere in Chithra Lekha’s constitutional right. She reported that Intelligence officers had contacted her and asked about her decision to change religion. Allegedly, they had asked her to “what party she was moving to”. She noted that she didn’t know if they were state intelligence officers or central intelligence officers. While they reportedly told her that she had the right to choose her religion, it was their duty to ask these questions. If this is how it is when she is thinking about converting, she wonders what would be if she actually converts.

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