Two men who were arrested earlier this month under the Uttar Pradesh government’s newly enacted law against religious conversions by marriage, coercion or enticement were released on Saturday after a court order.
On December 5, Rashid Ali and his wife Muskan Jahan or Pinki had gone to a court in Moradabad’s Kaanth town to register their marriage. However, a group of local Hindu activists landed at the court and forcibly took the couple to a police station. The police at the time said that the woman’s mother had accused Rashid of enticing Jahan by posing as a Hindu man, Sonu, and hiding his religious identity.
Later, Rashid and his brother Mohd Saleem were booked under section 3 of the new law and Jahan was sent to a shelter home.
The woman said her mother levelled fake charges against Rashid and told a magistrate that she married him and converted to Islam of her free will.
“The court ordered the release of Rashid and his brother on the basis of the woman’s statement that she was an adult and had married Rashid of her own will and converted to Islam without any pressure,” Moradabad superintendent of police (rural) VS Mishra said.
The two have been released on a personal bond and the case will be scrapped once police submit a report of the investigation.
After her release from the shelter home on December 15, the 22-year-old woman accused authorities of medical negligence, which she said led to the miscarriage of her three-month-old foetus. The charge was denied by the state administration.
“They ignored my complaint of pain in the stomach for three days and took me to the hospital only when my health deteriorated,” Jahan said.
She further alleged that injections and medicines given to her in hospital were to terminate her pregnancy. This allegation was refuted by the inspector of Kaanth police station, Ajay Gautam, who described the charges as “rumour” and “fake news”.
The recently promulgated Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance nullifies marriages if they are carried out for the sole purpose of religious conversion. The state government had on November 24 approved the draft ordinance, which provides for a jail term of up to 10 years for violators.
It was enacted amid assertions by a section of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders that a strict law was needed against “love jihad”, a term used by right-wing activists to describe relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women, though the courts and the Union government do not officially recognise the term.
The Allahabad high court on Friday sought a response from the state government on two petitions that have challenged the constitutional validity of the controversial law, but declined to put it in abeyance through a stay order.