Around 35 arrests, dozen FIRs as UP’s ‘love jihad’ law completes a month
At full steam, Uttar Pradesh police have made more than one arrest a day since the controversial anti-conversion ordinance went into effect a month ago, having detained some 35 people so far.
Nearly a dozen FIRs have been filed since the Prohibition of Illegal Conversion of Religion Ordinance of 2020 was notified on November 27.
Eight arrests were made in Etah, seven in Sitapur, four in Greater Noida, three in Shahjahanpur and Azamgarh, two in Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor and Kannauj and one in Bareilly and Hardoi, officials here said.
The first case was registered in Bareilly just one day after the legislation went into effect.
Police broke the whip following a complaint from Tikaram Rathore, the father of a 20-year-old girl and a resident of Sharif Nagar village in Bareilly. He alleged that Uwaish Ahmad (22) had befriended his daughter and was trying to “persuade, coerce and lure her” into converting.
An FIR was filed at the Deorania Police Station in Bareilly District and the defendant was arrested on December 3.
Acting swiftly after receiving information on interfaith marriages, Lucknow police stopped a ceremony in the state capital and asked the couple to first comply with legal requirements.
In Muzaffarnagar district, a Nadeem and an accomplice were arrested on December 6 for allegedly trying to force a married Hindu woman to convert.
However, Nadeem obtained a pardon when the Allahabad High Court ordered the police not to take any coercive action against him.
Also, in Moradabad, two brothers, arrested earlier this month under the anti-conversion law, were released by order of a CJM court.
Rashid and Salim were arrested on December 4 after they visited the registry office in Moradabad to register Rashid’s marriage to a Hindu woman whose family had filed the complaint.
Shabab Khan, alias Rahul (38), who is married, was arrested in Mau district on December 3 and 13 of his accomplices were booked for allegedly kidnapping a 27-year-old woman on the eve of her wedding on November 30. with the intention of changing their religion.
An FIR stayed at the Tambor Police Station in the Sitapur district and Zubrail, 22, along with five of his relatives and two locals were charged with kidnapping a 19-year-old girl and converting her. All except Zubrail were arrested on December 5.
In Bijnor, worker Afzal, 22, was arrested on December 13 for allegedly kidnapping a girl from her home.
A 19-year-old woman filed an FIR at the Shahabad Police Station in Hardoi District on December 11 alleging that she was raped on the pretext of marriage and also pressured to convert by one Mohammed Azad. He also claimed that Azad was selling it in Delhi. Azad was booked for rape, for violating the UP Illegal Conversion of Religion Prohibition Act, 2020 and for human trafficking. He was arrested on December 16.
Rashid Ali (22) and Saleem Ali (25) were arrested under the new law in the Moradabad district on similar charges.
A man was sent to jail in Bijnor on December 16 for “love jihad,” a term coined by BJP leaders and right-wing activists to describe the crime against which the chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, has also spoken out.
Addressing rallies in Jaunpur and Deoria, Adityanath had used the Hindu funeral chant of “Ram Naam Satya Hai” to threaten those who do not respect his daughters and sisters.
Amid an uproar over the law, social activist Shantanu Sharma said: “We have no problems with the new law, but its application should not cause harassment to people. You need to ensure that it is not misused. “” Making a new law does not mean that forced conversions will be easily controlled. Ultimately, it will be enforced by the police. It is too early to predict whether it will succeed in its purpose or no, but it should be used with care, ”he said.
Former UP Police Director General Yashpal Singh said that when a girl runs away, there is pressure to recover. “It is (the law) good according to the social structure and with that there will be no exploitation. However, according to the modern social perspective, people can feel deprived of their freedom. “Superior court attorney Sandeep Chowdhury said:” The law violates the fundamental right to choose and the right to change faith. fundamental rights to individual autonomy, privacy, human dignity and personal freedom guaranteed by Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) of the Constitution. ”He pointed out that a PIL has already been filed in the Superior Court of Allahabad challenging the law and now it is up to the court to decide.
The high court has asked the state government to respond to a petition claiming that the new law violates the fundamental right to choose and the right to change one’s faith.
During the hearing, the superior court refused to grant provisional measures and ordered the state government to file a counter-affidavit before January 4.
The ordinance aimed at curbing forced or fraudulent religious conversions, including those for the good of marriage, obtained the consent of UP governor Anandiben Patel, just days after the state cabinet approved its draft. The law provides for a prison sentence of up to 10 years for any offense. Under the law, which deals with different categories of offenses, a marriage will be declared “null and void” if the conversion of a woman is for the sole purpose.
The responsibility for proving that the conversion was not carried out by force rests with the accused and the convert.