Parliamentarians, MLAs, community leaders, and activists have said that the recent arrest of Islamic scholar Maulana Kaleem Siddiqui by the Anti-Terrorist Squad of Uttar Pradesh under draconian anti-conversion law, 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.
The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad arrested Siddiqui in Meerut on Tuesday night on charges of alleged illegal religious conversions, reported PTI. Siddiqui is one of the prominent clerics from western Uttar Pradesh and the president of Global Peace Center as well as Jamia Imam Waliullah Trust.
The ATS claimed that Siddiqui was running India’s “biggest [religious] conversion syndicate”. Uttar Pradesh Additional Director General (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said the ATS found that Siddiqui’s Jamia Imam Waliullah Trust was conducting illegal religious conversions in the name of running “communal harmony” programs.
“Siddiqui’s fault is that he believed in Constitution which gives him the right to profess and preach any religion,” said Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, former chairman of Delhi Minorities Commission.
Aam Aadmi Party MLA Amanatullah Khan called Siddique’s arrest a political move.
“Famous Islamic scholar Maulana Kalim Siddiqui Sahab has been arrested ahead of the elections in Uttar Pradesh,” he said on Twitter. “The atrocities on Muslims are increasing. The silence of secular parties on these issues is giving more strength to the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party]. How much more will BJP fall to win the UP elections?”
“This is wrong. The BJP government has no work other than harassing Muslims,” Samajwadi Party leader and four-time MP Shafiqur Rehman Barq said.
Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) has said that they believe that Maulana Siddiqui has been made a convenient scapegoat by the UP government for electoral gains.
“We strongly condemn the arrests and appeal for his immediate release. The continuous persecution of innocent Muslims is reprehensible and should be stopped immediately. Such actions will only create an atmosphere of scepticism and distrust and will be utterly harmful for the social fabric of the country,” reads a statement by SIO national president Mohammad Salman Ahmad.
Tipu Sultan Party has demanded the immediate release of Islamic scholar.
“Maulana Kaleem Siddiqui has been arrested under the conspiracy. Why does this BJP hate Muslims so much? Tipu Sultan Party demand immediate release Maulana Kaleem Siddique,” the party tweeted from his official account.
“Strongly condemn the arrest of Maulana Kaleem Siddiqui sb. He, just like Umar Gautam, is criminalised only to satisfy the hateful fetishes of India’s majority community. Maulana is a widely respected figure in India and abroad. Demanding his immediate release!,” reads a tweet by Muslim student activist and Fraternity Movement leader Sharjeel Usmani.
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.