“I am Hadiya”, A Documentary for keeping human rights alive Premiered.
KP Kesava Menon Hall, Kozhikode
The life of a 25-year-old woman from Kerala has grabbed national and international headlines. But Hadiya, a neo-convert who was born Akhila, has neither stepped out of her home in Kottayam district, nor has she been allowed to meet anyone. Human rights violation faced by Hadiya and a cross section of other issues including the right to practice a religion of one’s choice, is what makes the core of the documentary film “I Am Hadiya”, directed by
documentary filmmaker Gopal Menon, the film is produced by National Confederation of Human Rights Organisation (NCHRO). I am Hadiya talks about the challenging times in which a 25-year-old woman is denied her fundamental rights. More than the film, how the campaign against Hadiya by fledgling Hindutva forces and the vicious rhetoric of ‘love jihad’ was vitiating the pluralist, secular, mature and enlightened social fabric of our country being severely threatened.
The documentary release and gathering was held in KP Kesava Menon hall, Kozhikode on Monday, October 30, 2017 in front of a packed audience.
Amit Sengupta eminent journalist and former professor at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi delivered the key note address.
In his keynote, Amit Sengupta challenges our taken for granted notions of our human rights. It is standing up for a couple’s right to be together. The inter-faith relationships and marriages are legitimate in a mature and democratic society. Despite the massive efforts to rake up the issue as a case of conversion and to create communal phobia, it is nothing but an adult woman’s right to choose her partner and her privacy as guaranteed by the
Constitution. certain elements are trying to create fissures and fears among communities.
Gopal Menon has always had the reporter’s instinct of picking up ‘newsy’ and ‘breaking news’ themes, even as it becomes a running story and a controversial public narrative. His film, Hey Ram, shot quickly with heart-wrenching shots from ground zero in a difficult and violent terrain, was a current affairs documentary on the Gujarat genocide of 2002. When it was first screened in open air at the Constitution Club in Delhi, by Sahmat, in front of a huge audience, including editors and academics, almost everyone had tears in their eyes, even as the wounds of mass murders, the gang-rapes, the dying and the survivors in the camps were in transparent glare as a tragic and brutal public spectacle of a state-sponsored carnage. The film was later screened all over Delhi, and across the globe, and became a living testimony of the horror that was Gujarat in 2002. He is now off to Cox Bazaar in Bangladesh to shoot a film on the Rohingyas.
“The documentary will bring to light the injustice faced by Hadiya over a conversion which, according to her, was by her own and will establish the allegations raised against Shafin S Jahan, Hadiya’s husband, as baseless,” said Gopal Menon who directed the documentary. ‘For one, the court has no right to annul a marriage on a habeas corpus petition. Moreover, the court has not even heard Hadiya’s side properly. This is the violation of all norms. The
whole of Kerala is demanding that Hadiya be heard,’ Gopal Menon added.
Speaking in the event were Divya Bharathi eminent documentary director, Vilayodi Shivankutty President NCHRO Kerala state chapter, KH Naser vice president Popular front of India-Kerala, VR Anoop Rajiv Gandhi study circle NewDelhi, TK Abdussamad, Grow Vasu, Nisha Ponthathil Associate Editor “I am Hadiya”, KPO Rahmathulla.
I am Hadiya is a non-partisan, objective documentary, which takes into account all versions and puts them in a perspective. The power of rationality finally scores over blind fanaticism, and the film speaks for itself. Hopefully, the film, as much as the public narrative of the ‘Hadiya isssue’, will mark a turning point in the beautiful and green Kerala, and show the way to the rest of the country where the poison of hate politics, violence against dissent and alternate views and mob-lynching seems to have become the order of the day.
For human rights to flourish, religious rights have to come second to them. We are all human. We are not all of the same religion, or religious at all. People with diverse beliefs can live together without conflict, the religious beliefs of all who respect human rights will be respected in turn.