Woman claims harassment over unilateral conversion suit

PETALING JAYA: A woman who is one of the plaintiffs and witnesses of a lawsuit related to unilateral conversion has lodged a police report for alleged harassment by officers of the Kota Tinggi Islamic religious authorities.

She said in her police report that five officers, including one in uniform, had come to her house in Ulu Tiram, Johor, at about 3pm on Wednesday.

She said she was at home with her three children at the time.

“They asked me to open the front door before entering. They then scolded me for filing a case against the Johor state government. I am a plaintiff and a witness in the case,” she said in the report filed at the Ulu Tiram police station yesterday.

“The officers also scolded me for not wearing a hijab in my own home. They took videos and photos of my young children and my home,” she claimed.

She said the officers had violated her privacy by taking the photos and videos without her consent.

Speaking on behalf of the woman, Agaman Ani’s legal unit director, Arun Doraisamy, said the woman was a victim of unilateral conversion and had been converted by one of her parents. However, she had only practised the Hindu faith throughout her life.

The Hindu NGO is also one of the plaintiffs in the court case.

Arun said that as the case was underway, it was for the courts to decide on the matter.

“This kind of harassment is uncalled for and illegal,” he told a press conference on Wednesday. It amounts to tampering with a witness. She is a witness in this case,” he said.

“We are preparing to file a motion of contempt of court.”

Arun said the woman was “shaken” after the incident and was worried for her safety, adding that it has also left other plaintiffs – including M. Indira Gandhi – concerned about whether they would also face the same problem.

Arun further claimed that the children of the woman, aged between eight and 13, were interviewed by the officers and asked about religion.

Meanwhile, lawyer Rajesh Nagarajan confirmed that a contempt of court action would be filed against the Kota Tinggi Islamic Religious Council and the Johor state government.

“We expect the application for leave for contempt of court to be filed sometime next week,” he said.

“We are absolutely shocked that government officers can behave with such scant disregard for court proceedings and harass a plaintiff or witness in an ongoing court proceeding,” he added.

The 14 filed the legal challenge at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on March 20 against the governments of Perlis, Kedah, Melaka, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Johor and Kuala Lumpur.

They are seeking a declaration that the state enactments that allowed the unilateral conversion of children into Islam are invalid as they violated Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution and other matters interpreted in the Indira Gandhi case in 2018.

Then, the court ruled that unilateral conversion was unconstitutional and violated Article 12(4).

The other plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Indira herself, former chairman of Malaysia Hindu Sangam and Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism S. Mohan; chairman of the Indira Gandhi Action Team Arun Dorasamy; NGO Hindu Agamam Ani, while the rest of the plaintiffs were individuals who were residents of the eight states.

The group is represented by Messrs Raj & Sach.

On Jan 29, 2018, the Federal Court nullified the unilateral conversion of Indira’s three children to Islam by her ex-husband Muhammad Riduan Abdullah and ruled that the consent of both parents must be sought.

It ruled that Article 12 (4) stated that the word “parent” should not be construed literally, and that the consent of both parents was required.

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