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Monday, June 5, 2023

UP files case against Muslim stalker within hours of getting new anti-conversion law

Just hours after the UP government’s ordinance against illegal and fraud conversions came into effect, one Uwaish Ahmad (22) from Bareilly was booked for threatening to kidnap and forcefully convert and marry a 20-year-old married Hindu girl he had been stalking since their school days.

After the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religious Ordinance, 2020, was cleared by governor Anandiben Patel on Saturday, later that same night, the FIR against Ahmad was filed based on the girl’s father’s complaint at Devarniyan police station in Bareilly. “This is the first case filed under the newly enacted law,” DIG (Bareilly zone) Rajesh Kumar Pandey said.

The father alleged that Ahmad had been stalking and threatening his daughter for the past three years. “We have booked him under Section 3/5 of the ordinance, along with sections 504 (breach of peace) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC,” additional SP (rural) Sansaar Singh told Times Of India.

Section 3 of the ordinance prohibits conversion or attempt to convert by use of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage, while section 5 lays down the punishment for its violation — 1 to 10 years of prison and fines up to Rs 25,000. The burden of proof is on the accused.

Police said that the girl had disappeared last year and her family had filed a complaint against the youth then too; she was later found in Bhopal. Uwaish Ahmad’s family said the two were involved  ‘consensually’. The girl married another man in June, and the girl’s brother said, “Ahmad used to stalk my sister since she was in school. Now, he is forcing her to marry him and change her religion.”

When the woman came home to visit her family recently, Ahmad reached there and threatened her and her father on Saturday.

The new anti-conversion law introduced by the UP government has been welcomed in a guarded fashion by many activists fighting for the rights of Hindu girls and their families who are the victims of grooming or entrapment by Islamist youth. These radicalised youth usually assume fake Hindu identities/use obscene photos & videos to exploit Hindu girls sexually and/or force them to convert and marry as per sharia.

Innumerable such cases, of what is colloquially termed ‘Love Jihad’, have been recorded, with police and administration reluctant to act lest they be branded ‘communal’. Recently, a college-going girl Nikita Tomar who aspired to enter the armed forces, was shot dead in Faridabad, Haryana by a Muslim stalker Tauseef who belongs to an influential Congress family from Mewat. Like in this case from Bareilly, Nikita and Tauseef went to the same school, and he too had kidnapped Nikita earlier in 2018.

However, some have argued that the new law exhibits the same distorted & confused secularisation that many of our other laws suffer from, whereas the problem it is trying to tackle is very specific: grooming and fraud conversion of non-Muslim girls by radicalised Muslim youth and supporting organisations, and fraudulent mass conversions by Christian evangelical groups. Their solution is that any marriage of a Muslim man with a non-Muslim woman should only be allowed under the Special Marriage Act (SMA), thus preventing the woman’s marital rights being dictated by misogynist sharia law that applies for Muslim marriages.

Whether the new ordinance or alternatives being proposed by critics will stand the test of our courts, which itself have given conflicting judgements on this issue and prefer playing to the secular galleries, is another matter.

However, it is a step forward that finally one state government has woken up, despite desperate elitist attempts to dismiss the Love Jihad issue as ‘communal propaganda’, to the serious challenge posed by grooming and the anti-Hindu bigotry behind it.

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