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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

“Merely because the boy and girl are from different religions, it cannot have a religious angle”, the Bombay HC says ignoring forced circumcision of Dipak Sonawane

The Bombay (Mumbai) HC recently delivered a bizarre judgment in line with the Bharatiya judiciary’s Hinduphobic stance. In their March 1 order, the HC bench of Justices Vibha Kankanwadi and Abhay Waghwase while granting bail to a Muslim woman and her family accused of forcibly circumcising a neo-Buddhist man Dipak Sonawane and converting him to Islam, dismissed ‘love jihad’ allegations.

Mumbai HC’s bizarre judgment

Furthermore, the bench held that the Muslim family could not be accused of forced conversion since he was in a ‘relationship’ with the woman. “It appears that now the colour has been tried to be given of love-jihad, but when love is accepted then there is less possibility of the person being trapped just for converting him into the other’s religion…Merely because the boy and girl are from different religions, it cannot have a religious angle. It can be a case of pure love for each other,” the HC Bench observed.

The case is from Maharashtra’s Sambhajinagar in which the victim Dipak Sonawane stated that his Muslim girlfriend Sana and her family trapped him. The girl’s family not only extorted 11 lakhs rupees from the victim but also forced him to embrace Islam and forcibly got him circumcised. Sonawane also highlighted that AIMIM MP Imtiaz Jaleel, District Judge Kadari, and a police officer were helping the girl Sana Farheen Shahmir and her family.

The HC was hearing the woman’s bail application when it made the bizarre observations while completely turning a deaf ear to the victim’s pleas. “When the initial relationship was good and the caste or the religion was not the barrier for them, then the question of raising the issue of caste or community or religion at a later point of time will not arise,” the HC bench stated.

The HC further noted that the victim had filed the complaint late and had not ended his ties with the main accused. It rejected the grounds for applying the Atrocities Act citing a ‘love affair’ between the couple.

“On the present date, Sana happened to approach the High Court (HC) for anticipatory bail which has eventually been granted by the former. The Court said that as Deepak in the FIR mentioned that he was in love with Sana and that he had good relations with her and her family, no offence under the Atrocities Act could be made”, reported OpIndia.

“The expert was unable to say whether the circumcision was natural or was due to any surgical intervention. The expert was also unable to say whether it was done by any medical professional or in a traditional way of Islam by an unauthorized person. He was also unable to say when it would have been done”, the bench observed with regard to forced circumcision ‘claims’.

The case

Deepak said he met the girl Sana in 2018 at MIT college where they were classmates and fell in love. However, after some time Sana began pressurizing him to convert to Islam. “Sana lured me into marriage and said, ‘I want to marry you, you embrace Islam, recite namaz, read the Quran. In March 2021, her parents, uncle, and sister called me to meet in the Gulmandi area. When I went there, they told me to park my bike there and told me that ‘we all need to go somewhere”, Deepak said.

“As soon as I refused, Khawaja Sayyed and Shahmir Sheikh forcibly took me to their house. They locked me in the room. Shahmir Sheikh and Khawaja Sayyed removed my clothes. Shabana Begum and Sazia Sadaf tied my hands and legs and put a cloth in my mouth, while Shahmir Shaikh urinated on my body. The video of the act was shot on the mobile of Sana and Shahmeer Shaikh as they started beating me up for converting to Islam”, he added.

He added that later Sana and her mother got him forcibly circumcised at the hospital located in the lane behind the City Chowk police station. They also threatened to defame him by leaking his video. Furthermore, they even threatened to murder him and his family. Deepak feared for his and his family’s life as well as the ignominy he would have to face if the video was leaked.

The girl’s family also started extorting money from him and said they would register a complaint against him. Deepak said he has paid a total of 11 lakhs, 7 lakhs in cash and 4 lakhs online. The accused’s family demanded 25 lakhs more but Deepak refused to fulfil their demand as he didn’t have money.

Following the incident when Deepak stayed away from Sana, her family filed a case under IPC section 354 (assault or criminal force to a woman with intent to outrage her modesty) with the MIDC CIDCO police station. The girl even called him and said her parents had filed a case while adding she would get the case withdrawn if he paid 25 lakhs. Her father also asked Deepak to either pay the money or convert to Islam.

To add to Deepak’s woes, District judge Kadari ruled illegally in favour of the Muslim girl due to which Deepak had to spend 40 days in jail. Another case was filed under IPC Section 376 (rape) by the Shahmir family. However, Dipak was granted bail by the session court as the allegations were found to be false despite the offence being unbailable.

The HC has ignored several facts like the possibility of abduction, torture, casteist abuse, and forced Khatna. The HC also overlooked the fact that Dipak was abused and money was extorted from him. Also, the HC completely overlooked the session court observations while granting bail to Dipak.

The HC observed that the story might lose its relevance on account of the inordinate delay in registering the FIR. The HC held that since the investigation was practically concluded and the police would be submitting the chargesheet soon, physical custody would not be required.

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