Friday, June 14, 2024

“Police communalised complaint”; Bail to Muslim men in Gujarat’s first ‘anti-conversion law’ case

Four Muslim men arrested in connection with the first case filed in Gujarat under the draconian anti-conversion law were granted bail on Wednesday.

The case was registered in June against 26-year-old Samir Qureshi in Vadodara, his parents, uncle, sister and cousin and a priest who solemnised the marriage, and two witnesses.

A total of seven people had been arrested in this case. Three had been given bail in September. Among those who remained in custody were Qureshi, the priest and two witnesses. These four arrested persons were allowed bail on Wednesday.

While arresting Qureshi, the police alleged that the Muslim man used a fake Christian identity to speak to a woman on social media and forced her to marry him. According to the FIR, the man raped her multiple times and threatened to leak her private photos.

However, in July, a month after Qureshi and others were arrested, the woman claimed that she and the Qureshi got married in a Muslim ceremony in February with the consent of both their families.

The woman told the court that her first complaint was based on a “trivial domestic matrimonial issue,” which had eventually been resolved, according to PTI news agency.

She and the accused persons moved the Gujarat High Court, asking for the FIR to be quashed.

The woman alleged that the cops twisted the accusations, turning a domestic violence complaint into a case of forced religious conversion and rape, according to a Deccan Herald report.

Her complaint reads: “Certain religio-political groups intervened in the matter and communalised the said issue by bringing the angle of love-jihad… Also, on account of overzealousness of the police officers involved, facts and offences which were never mentioned or alleged by the informant [the woman] came to be inserted in the FIR.”

The High Court also said that the couple can stay together and quashing of the FIR will be decided in the next hearing, Deccan Herald reported.

Love jihad’ is a term used by the Hindu nationalist groups to describe an alleged phenomenon where Muslim men lure Hindu women, by hook or by crook, into marrying them and converting to Islam. Hindu group’s propagandists claim that this is an organised racket rooted in a widespread conspiracy. However, successive probes have failed to find any evidence that such a conspiracy exists and the even central government has admitted that the term has no credible definition.

Many non-BJP state governments and opposition leaders have criticised the BJP plan to target interfaith marriages and religious conversion, citing individual freedom. Rights group have described the law as ‘anti-Muslim’ and ‘anti-Women’.

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