Entire families of Muslims booked by UP police under ‘love jihad’ law; women, minor girls not spared
In one case, 26 family members of a Muslim man, including five women, were booked in Etah; in Mau, an FIR was lodged against 16 members of a family, while in Sitapur, 14 family members were booked
The Uttar Pradesh police is targeting entire Muslim families under the controversial anti-conversion ordinance, also called “love jihad” law, with 79 out of 86 people booked under it so far being from the minority community. All of them have been accused of ‘enticing’ Hindu women and ‘forcing’ them to convert to Islam.
This flies in the face of an affidavit submitted by the Yogi Government in the Allahabad High Court last week, which said the ordinance, officially called ‘Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020’, was not aimed against any particular religion but was equally applicable to all religions and to all forms of ‘forced conversions’.
The government gave the affidavit in response to a series of PILs filed in the High Court challenging the contentious ordinance.
Family members of those booked by the police have alleged that the police has slapped fake charges against them, but the administration insists that is not the case. In one case, 26 family members of a Muslim man, which included five women, were booked in Etah for allegedly forcing a 21-year-old Hindu woman to convert to Islam. Though the marriage took place on November 17-18 as per the FIR lodged in the case, almost a week before the ordinance came into force, the police went ahead and booked them under its provisions.
In Mau, an FIR was lodged against 16 members of a family, while in another case, 14 family members were booked in Sitapur.
Since the ordinance came into force in November last year, the Uttar Pradesh police has filed 16 First Information Reports (FIRs), under which 86 people have been booked, including two minor girls and women, who according to the police were allegedly involved in ‘forcing’ Hindu women to convert to Islam.
“This ordinance is against the Muslims in spirit and in action. The police has taken action against Muslims despite the Hindu women in question giving statements that they had married the Muslim men willingly. A scrutiny of the cases filed under the ordinance proves my point,” Lenin Raghuvanshi of the NGO People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) said.
Two of the FIRs were against non-Muslims under which seven persons were booked. They were charged with coercing women to convert to Christianity.
It may be recalled that the first arrest under this law was made in Bareilly on November 28 when a youth named Owais Ahmad was arrested following a complaint lodged by the father of a girl who had eloped with him. This was despite the fact that Ahmad’s family members had pointed out that he and the girl had studied together and the girl had left her home on her own.
In another case, a 17-year-old boy was arrested from Bijnor for allegedly forcing a teenager to convert to Islam. The police claimed that the accused introduced himself to the girl as a Hindu and tried to persuade her to marry him. It persuaded the girl to record a statement before it and as well as a magistrate under section 164 of CrPc.
The ruling BJP has defended the legislation with the party’s state vice-president and lawmaker Vijay Bahadur Pathak saying that the incidents show that there are some ‘unscrupulous elements’ in society who use the institution of marriage to propagate their ‘personal mission’. This ‘mission’ is sometimes nefarious and detrimental for the ‘security of the nation’, he alleged.
The ordinance prescribes a jail term of up to 10 years and fine of up to Rs 25,000 for religious conversion carried out under ‘fraud’, ‘coercion’ or ‘enticement’.