Hours after Uttar Pradesh governor Anandiben Patel approved an ordinance promulgated by the state against forced and dishonest conversions, the police registered the first case under it against a Muslim man in Bareilly district on Saturday night, senior officials said.
Avinash Chandra, additional director general (ADG), Bareilly zone, confirmed that the first information report, or FIR, was registered at Devraniya police station of Bareilly. He said a Hindu man of Sharifnagar village accused a Muslim man of mounting pressure on his daughter to convert her to Islam.
He said the complainant alleged that the Muslim man knows to his daughter since her college days and that he has been troubling the woman and her family members for the past few months.
The FIR, a copy of which is in HT’s possession, said the accused hurled abusive remarks and threatened the family with dire consequences on facing opposition to his advances for religion conversion of the woman.
Another Bareilly police official said the woman and the accused are from the same village — they are not married — and the incident has impacted communal harmony in the locality. He said the accused has been booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 504 (for insulting a person) and 506 (for criminal intimidation), and the section 3/5 of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, which came into effect on Saturday. The accused is on the run.
The ordinance has provisions to check religious conversions carried out by “allurement, coercion, force, fraud, or marriage.”
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The state cabinet cleared the law earlier this week, targeting what many right-wing outfits term “love jihad”, where Muslim men marry Hindu women with the aim of changing the latter’s religion after marriage. According to the ordinance, marriages where the intention is to change the woman’s religion will be declared invalid.
Under the provisions of the new law, the violations have been made a cognizable and non-bailable offence. The new law authorises the aggrieved persons’ parents, siblings or close relatives to file an FIR for violation of the provisions of the ordinance. The ordinance provides for jail term of up to 10 years in some cases for violators and treats forced and forced conversions as a non-bailable offence.
A government spokesperson said those violating the provisions may be punished with imprisonment of one to five years with a fine of not less than Rs 15,000. In case of girls, who are minors or belong to the scheduled castes or the scheduled tribes, the imprisonment will be for two to 10 years with a minimum fine of Rs 25,000. In case of mass conversion, the law has the provision for imprisonment of three to 10 years and a minimum fine of Rs 50,000. It provides for courts to award appropriate compensation with a maximum of Rs 5 lakh payable by the accused to the victim.
Any person who counsels or convinces the other person to commit the offence will also invite punishment. And the burden of proof will lie with the accused.