New Delhi: Gujarat police have registered the first FIR in the state under the amended Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021 – referred to as the “love jihad law”, which several Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states have passed recently.
The newly-notified law ostensibly brings in stringent punishment for forcible or fraudulent religious conversion through marriage. However, in several states similar laws have given legal credence to the Sangh Parivar’s bogey of “love jihad” – a concept, unsupported by data, which claims that Muslims conspire to convert Hindu women through marriage.
In Gujarat, the act has provisions for 3-10 years in jail and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh if the accused is found guilty, The Hindu had reported.
The Bill amends a 2003 Act, and seeks to curb the “emerging trend in which women are lured to marriage for the purpose of religious conversion” as per its statement of object, the newspaper reported. The original Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003, deals with religious conversion “through allurement, force or by misrepresentation or by any other fraudulent means”.
Gotri police of Vadodara filed the FIR and has arrested Samir Qureshi under the act.
Indian Express has additionally reported that police has detained six persons, including five from Qureshi’s family and one of his acquaintances, in connection with the FIR.
A 24-year-old woman has alleged that Qureshi, who runs a mutton shop with his father, lured her by posing as a Christian. The woman belongs to a community recognised as a Scheduled Caste.
Qureshi allegedly introduced himself to her as Sam Martin on social media in 2019, deputy commissioner of police, Zone 2, Vadodara city, Jayrajsinh Vala told PTI.
“According to the complainant, Qureshi, using his fake identity on social media, trapped her in the name of love and then raped her. The accused started blackmailing her using her objectionable photos and forced her to marry him. He even forced her to undergo an abortion during their courtship,” the police officer told reporters.
The woman allegedly learned about Qureshi’s faith around a year ago when a Muslim wedding ceremony was organised instead of a Christian wedding ceremony after she agreed to marry him, the DC said.
Police have held that the complainant woman has alleged that Qureshi was forcing her to convert into Islam after getting her to change her name and had also verbally abused her with casteist slurs.
Express has reported that in addition to Section 4 of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, the six have been booked under sections 498A (domestic violence), 376(2)(n) (rape of a woman multiple times), 377 (unnatural sex), 312 and 313 (voluntarily causing a woman with a child to miscarry against her will), 504 (intentional provoking to break public peace), 506(2) (criminal intimidation), 120(b) (criminal conspiracy), as well as various sections of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities ) Act, 1989.
(With PTI inputs)