Maulana Kaleem Siddiqui sent to 10 days police custody

Maulana Kaleem Siddiqui

A Special ATS/NIA Court in Lucknow on Thursday sent Islamic scholar Maulana Kaleem Siddiqui, arrested by the Anti-Terrorist Squad of Uttar Pradesh under draconian anti-conversion law, to police custody for 10 days.

The custody period will begin on Friday at 10 am and end on October 4 at 10 am. Special Judge YR Gupta passed the order on the plea of investigating officer Champion Lal.

The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad arrested Siddiqui, one of the prominent Islamic scholars from western Uttar Pradesh and the president of Global Peace Center as well as Jamia Imam Waliullah Trust, in Meerut on Tuesday night on charges of alleged illegal religious conversions and was sent to jail under judicial custody on Wednesday.

The ATS had later moved an application before the court seeking police remand of Siddiqui. In the remand plea, the ATS probe officer stated that a mobile phone and seven local and foreign SIM cards were recovered from the accused.

The ATS also said that it wanted to “trace the men who were illegally converted to Islam.”

Meanwhile, lawmakers, community leaders, and activists have said that the arrest of 64-year-old Siddiqui violated the veteran Muslim leader’s constitutional rights at every stage. Several people have expressed shock over the arrest and said the UP Police action is clearly in violation of Articles 25-28 of the Indian Constitution.

With Siddique’s arrest, 11 people have been arrested in the case so far. In June, the Anti-Terrorist Squad had arrested two Muslim scholars Mohammad Umar Gautam and Mufti Quazi Jahangeer Quasmi under draconian anti-conversion law.

Many including Opposition parties, rights activists, Muslim leaders, and international rights watchdogs have been raising concerns about the new Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020. Most of it has been around the law being a violation of an individual’s all fundamental rights. The law makes the private choice of a person who converts to another religion subject to the whims of the government of the day.

More than 100 Muslim youth were arbitrarily arrested by UP police under the new draconian law till now.

The law, which came into force in the form of an ordinance on November 28 last year, is seen as giving legal teeth to the BJP’s anti-Muslim campaign the so-called ‘love jihad‘.