New Delhi: The total number of FIRs filed under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 202o has risen to 11 with fresh cases registered in Shahjahanpur and Kannauj, meaning it has been invoked approximately once every 48 hours since its promulgation on November 27, reported The Hindu.
At least 34 persons have been arrested so far, the police in various districts said.
The police have registered cases under the new ordinance in Gautam Buddha Nagar, Mau, Bijnor, Hardoi, Sitapur, Muzaffarnagar, Moradabad, Bareilly and Etah.
In Kannauj, a case was registered against a Muslim man for marrying a Hindu girl allegedly through a fraudulent Hindu identity. The girl’s brother said the man, Taufeeq, was going by the name Rahul Verma and that even his sister did not know his religion. “When we asked about his family, he said he had been living separately for seven years and lived in Lucknow. He said his family lived in Jaipur,” the girl’s brother claimed and said that the family found out that the man was a Muslim through a photo of the wedding he posted on Facebook.
Additional superintendent of police Vinod Kumar said the accused was arrested on Saturday and that the couple had married in accordance with Hindu rituals. Superintendent of Police, Kannauj, said a complaint was registered after a man alleged that his daughter was married through fraud using a fake name.
A group of BJP leaders reportedly also accompanied the complainant to the police station and assured to help the father.
In a separate instance, the superintendent of police in Shahjahanpur said that a Muslim youth identified as Mohammad Saeed, was arrested on charges of allegedly sexually exploiting a woman after concealing his religion. The police said that the man, who was booked for rape and extortion, was also accused of taking intimate pictures of the woman and blackmailing her. In addition to forcing her to give him money, he had recently also started threatening her to marry him by forcibly trying to convert her, the police said.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad office bearer Rajesh Awasthi went to the police station along with the woman to lodge a complaint against 12 people, including the qazi who solemnised the marriage, police said.
In Gautam Buddha Nagar, police arrested four persons including three women, one of whom was a South Korean national, on charges of using enticement to convert people to a different religion.
In Sitapur, 13 persons were arrested after a Hindu student allegedly eloped with a Muslim van driver of the same village, Makhu Behar in Tambaur, said Deputy Superintendent of Police of Laharpur. The girl’s father had alleged that the boy persuaded his daughter to flee from home with the intention of religious conversion.
Attempts to trace the boy and the girl in the case are underway while the boy’s family members have been arrested, the deputy superintendent said.
In Mau, ten persons were arrested after a married Muslim man and 13 relatives, including his wife, were charged with allegedly abducting a Hindu gold trader’s daughter in Molnaganj on the eve of her wedding. While ten persons had been arrested, the girl and the boy had also been traced, the Station House Officer in Chiraiyakot said. Premchand Seth alleged in his complaint that Shadab alias Rahul Khan, who lived in the same neighbourhood, had enticed his daughter, who went missing on the night of November 29, with the intention of converting her, and kidnapped her.
He lured her with phone calls and messages, alleged Seth.
In Bijnor’s Dhampur, a 19-year-old Muslim man was arrested for eloping with a minor Dalit girl and attempting to coerce her into conversion, said police. The two were taken into custody and the accused was slapped with the POCSO Act and SC/ST Act, said the Superintendent of Police in Bijnor.
In Hardoi, the police arrested a man after booking him under the recently promulgated ordinance and for rape based on a complaint by a woman who alleged that he was trying to force her to convert her religion.
In Etah’s Jalesar, a 28-year-old Muslim man and his five family members, were booked under the ordinance for allegedly kidnapping and converting a businessman’s 22-year-old daughter.
The first person arrested under the new ordinance was Owais Ahmad in Bareilly district after a resident of Sharif Nagar village in Devarniya accused Ahmad, a resident of the same village, of trying to convert his daughter through “allurement,” said police. Ahmed was accused of allegedly trying to coerce a 20-year-old married Hindu woman to convert her to his religion and marry him.
A Muslim man from Moradabad, Rashid, who had gone to register his marriage to a Hindu girl on December 5 was arrested under the new ordinance against unlawful conversions. He was released from jail on bail along with his brother on Saturday after the police submitted in court they found no evidence against him.
On Friday, the Allahabad high court stayed criminal proceedings against a Muslim labourer Nadeem, who along with his brother, was booked in Muzaffarnagar, based on a complaint by the husband of a woman who accused Nadeem of wanting to marry his wife and coercing her to convert. Noting that the woman had “a fundamental right to privacy,” the court said she was an adult “who understands her well-being”. It also said the two were adults who were “aware of the consequences of their alleged relationship.”