14 arrested in Etah, 3 in Azamgarh under UP’s anti-conversion law

LUCKNOW — The Uttar Pradesh police is working strictly under the newly formulated anti-conversion law. They have arrested over dozen for converting a woman to Islam and three for trying to convince people to accept Christianity.

In Etah, the police arrested eight people on the charge of forcible conversion of a 21-year-old girl and then getting her married.

In Azamgarh, three other people were arrested under the new state law.

The case under the new anti-conversion law was filed on Thursday in Jalesar in Etah on the basis of a complaint filed by the woman’s father, a businessman.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Ram Niwas Singh said, “Fourteen people, including the eight on Tuesday, have been arrested so far. Three police teams are trying to find the woman, and arrest the absconder.”

According to the police, the woman has been missing since November 17. But her family filed a case last Thursday when they received a letter from Javed’s lawyer, informing them about the woman’s conversion and the subsequent marriage in a court.

The case was registered under IPC section 366 (kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her for marriage) and under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020.

Javed is on the run after being accused of ‘kidnapping and unlawfully converting’ a Hindu woman to Islam while eight of his relatives were booked and arrested on Tuesday.

According to the Etah police statement, the eight accused, including a woman, were arrested from near the Agra crossing.

A police spokesman said that the arrests were meant to ‘create pressure’ on the absconding couple to surrender.

Police believed that the woman was somewhere in Delhi, while Javed was still in Uttar Pradesh, constantly changing his location.

“Javed and his four close relatives are still absconding,” a police officer said, adding that they will also be arrested soon.

A reward of Rs 25,000 on each of the five men has also been announced.

Javed runs a cloth shop and is a neighbour of the woman.

In Azamgarh, the police have arrested Balchandra, Gopal Prajapati and Neeraj Kumar for organizing a meeting and convincing people to convert to Christianity.

Deedarganj station house officer Sanjay Kumar Singh said that the three men came to the village and allegedly organised a meeting at Tribhuvan Yadav’s home to convert people to Christianity.

A villager, Ashok Yadav, informed police following which the arrests were made under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, he said.

The ordinance mainly envisages that no person shall convert, either directly or indirectly from one religion to another by use or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage nor shall any person abet, convince or conspire such conversion.

The onus to prove that the conversion has not been done forcibly will lie on the person accused.

Raj Kumar Kashyap, a social worker in Azamgarh, alleged that the police were going overboard with the anti-conversion laws.

“In Azamgarh, the three who have been arrested were addressing a meeting and had not forced any conversion. Preaching about any religion is not a crime – not as yet,” he said. 

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