No evidence of forced conversion in arrest made under new law: UP to HC
The Uttar Pradesh government told Allahabad’s high court on Thursday that it dropped charges of forced conversion against a 32-year-old Muslim, who was one of the first people arrested under the state’s controversial anti-conversion law, after the Police found no evidence of allegations.
Police filed a First Information Report (FIR) against Nadeem Ahmad and his brother Salman under the Uttar Pradesh Illegal Conversion of Religion Ordinance of 2020 on November 29 over a complaint from Muzaffarnagar resident Akshay Kumar Tyagi, who alleged that Nadeem lured his wife to convert to Islam and also threatened her.
The higher court prevented state police from taking coercive action against Nadeem on December 18, and tagged his guilty plea to petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the ordinance, known colloquially as the “love jihad” law in reference to a term used by rightists to describe the relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women.
The state government affidavit said the police investigation produced no evidence that Nadeem had “any illicit relationship with the woman” or that he was trying to convert his religion.
“The investigator has recorded the statement of the victim, who in his statement reported that he is only known to Nadeem, but has no relationship,” reads the affidavit, a copy of which is in HT. But police found evidence in the call records that Nadeem threatened Kumar, the 13-page document adds.
The HC court, made up of Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice SS Shamshery, set January 15 as the next hearing date in the case. Nadeem was the first petitioner to go to the superior court to challenge a police complaint under the new law.
Muzaffarnagar police also confirmed that the charges of forced conversion were deemed false. “No evidence of forced conversion was found, therefore Section 3/5 of the new law (Ordinance Prohibiting Illegal Conversion of Religion of the UP 2020) has been removed in the case,” said KP Singh, official of Mansoorpur Police Station. .
Section 3 of the ordinance prohibits a person from converting another person’s religion by marriage. Section 5 prohibits conversion by any attraction or gift.
The circle officer, Khatauli, Ashish Pratap Singh said that the case against Nadeem and Salman was now under sections 504 (insult intended to cause a breach of the peace) and section 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code and that both were subject to bail.
The police charge sheet dated December 31 alleged that Nadeem called the woman and threatened to kill her.
But in court, Nadeem had denied all the allegations and said he was a poor worker who had been falsely implicated in the case by the plaintiff Kumar to avoid paying some fees.
Lead defender SFA Naqvi, on behalf of Nadeem, also argued that the ordinance violated constitutional rights and that criminal proceedings initiated under the provisions of the law should be annulled.