New Delhi: The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday directed the state’s Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) to invoke the National Security Act (NSA) and Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act against all those involved in what it has claimed is a “religious conversion racket”, reported the Indian Express.
The state government also asked the authorities to probe the financial transactions of the accused and confiscate their properties.
On Monday, the ATS arrested two Muslim clerics Mufti Kazi Jahageer Alam (52) and Mohammad Umar Gautam (57) from Delhi’s Jamia Nagar and accused them of running an organisation named Islamic Dawah Centre (IDC) which had allegedly been involved in large-scale religious conversions for the past one-and-a-half years.
The two arrested men were produced before a local court in Lucknow on Tuesday. “The court has sent the accused to seven-day police custody. We are yet to trace the associates of those arrested,” additional director general, law and order, Prashant Kumar said.
Kumar further told the Indian Express that the accused also used to target women as well as unemployed, poor and physically challenged people and that the police would consider invoking the Gangster Act and NSA against the accused.
Kumar had previously said that the police had been informed about the two accused while interrogating two other men who had allegedly planned to assassinate the chief priest of the Dasna Devi temple in Ghaziabad, Yati Narsinghanand.
IG-Anti-Terrorist Squad G.K. Goswamy said that they would seek a remand of the arrested duo from the court on Tuesday.
Umar Gautam and Jahangir are currently in judicial custody till July 3.
Under chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh is among a host of BJP-ruled states which have passed so-called ‘love jihad’ – an imagined conspiracy propagated by the Sangh Parivar alleging that Muslim men convert Hindu women by marriage – laws that criminalise conversion by inducement. They have usually been used to target interfaith couples.The Union home ministry and the Uttar Pradesh police have both been unable to offer concrete evidence of ‘love jihad’. In several situations, the new law has been used to harass couples and Muslims in Uttar Pradesh, with fatal consequences.
The police claim that the two clerics who were arrested received monetary support from foreign nations and international organisations.
The ADG described two incidents of alleged forced conversion. In the first, the parents of a student at the Noida Deaf Society reported that their child was missing, and recently, the boy reportedly got in touch with the family saying he has converted. The family lives in Kanpur. In a similar incident, another student of the same society was also allegedly converted to Islam.
Just last year the Allahabad high court had observed that a law such as the NSA had to be exercised by the executive with “extreme care”. “Where the law confers extraordinary power on the executive to detain a person without recourse to the ordinary law of the land and to trial by courts, such a law has to be strictly construed and the executive must exercise the power with extreme care,” the court said and noted that the executive was “under obligation to pass detention order according to procedure established by law”.