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New Delhi: Police in Uttar Pradesh’s Mau has taken several people into custody after receiving a complaints from members of a rightwing Hindutva group that they were allegedly involved in converting people into Christianity
The news agency IANS and the Hindu newspaper Amar Ujala have reported on the incident. While IANS wrote 50 people were detained, Amar Ujala reported that 15 people were initially held and seven were booked.
The Mau district in-charge of the rightwing group Hindu Jagran Manch, Bhanu Pratap Singh, and other members complained to police that a pastor had organised a prayer meet at a man’s house in Sahadatpura Colony. The Hindutva group allegedly reached out to police following a ruckus by residents of the area who had objected to the prayer meet.
Amar Ujala quoted another police officer, D.K. Srivastava as having said that a Sahadatpura resident, Radheshyam Singh, had lodged a complaint.
Among those detained are the owner and the pastor. The complainants had alleged that they were forcibly converting people.
IANS also quoted unnamed police sources to say that “neighbours had been complaining about the assembly as they believed that illegal religious conversions were being performed”.
However, police told the news outlets that investigation is on as to whether this is a veritable claim. Dhananjay Mishra, Deputy Superintendent of Police, told IANS that several people were questioned.
The seven have reportedly been booked under the Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020, which was brought with an ordinance last year.
The law had been dubbed the ‘love jihad’ law – referring to its intention to curb the Hindu rightwing bogey of a conspiracy among Muslims to convert Hindu women with marriage.
Analysing the legal loopholes in the law, N.C. Asthana had written for The Wire that the fact that Section 2(f) of the law regards ‘mass conversion’ as a more serious event is “ridiculous.”
“Suppose a family of three – husband, wife and an adult progeny – decides to convert together. On what logic can the state regard it as a more serious event than an individual’s conversion, and acquire the right to interfere in their collective choice?
“Conversion cannot be equated with rape, where gang rape is regarded as a more heinous offence because of the sheer immorality and violence of several men overpowering a lone woman. Otherwise, the punishment for one murder or a hundred murders is the same.”
The Uttar Pradesh incident comes in the same month when a mob of over 200 people perpetrated a violent attack on people praying in a Roorkee church in neighbouring Uttarakhand. Not only have the Uttarakhand Police made no arrests but they have registered a case against the victims.