Fight for religious freedom goes on, says ex-interfaith council chief

Source: The Malaysian Insider

Past president of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism Jagir Singh (right) says the Indira Gandhi case is regretful and one which touched him personally. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, September 13, 2015.

As a seasoned lawyer, Jagir Singh was used to sensitive religious issues which cropped up during his two-year stint as head of the country’s only interfaith council representing non-Muslim religions, but the interfaith custody battle involving Indira Gandhi struck a personal chord with him.

The past president of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) described the case as “a breastfed baby being taken away forcibly from its mother by the Muslim-convert father”.

Jagir, whose tenure as president ended last month, said the fact that the case remained unresolved and the child, now seven, has yet to be returned to her mother was regretful, adding that he wished the judiciary had “done better”.

He said that the council had always been at the forefront of such conversion cases, where children from civil marriages were unilaterally converted to Islam by the Muslim-convert spouse.

“The case of Indira Gandhi went to the higher courts and unfortunately, it did not avail to the opportunity to clarify the law.

“Her 11-month-old breastfed baby was forcibly taken by her Hindu husband who converted to Islam.

“The case is still ongoing in court and is without any finality, as yet,” he said.

The case of Indira, a kindergarten teacher, is now at the apex court, where she is appealing against the appellate court’s ruling last December which set aside her mandamus order to the inspector-general of police to execute a High Court order to locate her daughter Prasana Diksa and arrest her former husband Muhammad Riduan Abdullah. Read more