In a landmark ruling, all of M Indira Gandhi’s three children have been declared Hindus by the highest civil court in Malaysia, thereby bringing closure to her nearly decade long struggle for her children’s identity, the Malay Mail has reported.
Malaysia has a dual court system, with civil courts for non-Muslims and Sharia courts for Muslims. The case sets a precedent demonstrating that non-Muslims can seek resolution in Islamic matters from civil courts, in a country of more than 60 per cent Muslims.
The children’s father, Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, had, in April 2009, secretly converted the children to Islam without the knowledge and consent of his wife Indira, and had later applied to a Sharia court for the children’s custody. He then abducted the youngest daughter, then only 11-months old, and is still missing.
Civil courts in Malaysia have generally avoided ruling in such cases, raising questions over the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Malaysian constitution.
M Kulasegaran, Gandhi’s lawyer, called it a victory of all Malaysians, saying that there are many such cases involving unilateral cases pending in Malaysian courts and the ruling meant that they can now be resolved in the civil courts.
Gandhi’s two elder children expressed happiness with the court’s ruling which finally clears their religious status.
“For the past nine years, people ask us what are we, as in what religion are we? And my answer would be ‘I’m a Hindu’, with confidence. After today, I can say it with assurance that ‘I am a Hindu’,” Tevi Darsiny, Gandhi’s now 20-year old daughter wrote in a statement to the Malay Mail.
Karan Dinish, Gandhi’s son said that he was “extremely frustrated” with his father’s “irresponsible attitude”. “If he wanted to convert, it wouldn’t have been an issue, why did he have to convert us as well?”, he added, highlighting the ordeal the family has been facing.
The Malaysian police, that had earlier refused to set up a search for the third child citing conflict of jurisdiction between the civil and Sharia courts, have now been instructed to track down the father and daughter both.
Source: Google news