Three days after the State Police lodged an FIR alleging forced conversion of 100 ‘Hindu tribals’ into Islam in South Gujarat’s Bharuch district, four persons have been arrested under Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021 and Indian Penal Code.
On November 15, Amod police registered the offence under Section 4 of the anti-conversion law and Sections 120 (B) (c) and 506 (2) of Indian Penal Code following a complaint by one Praveen Vasava of Kakariya village in Bharuch district’s Amod taluka (tehsil).
In his complaint, Vasava claimed that he was converted into Islam by the accused persons in 2018 and “rechristened” as Salman Vasant Patel. He said the accused persons had themselves been converted to Islam a few years ago.
The accused persons include Abdul Aziz Patel, Yusuf Jivan Patel, Ayub Barkat Patel, and Ibrahim Punabhai Patel, who were formerly Ajit Chhagan Vasava, Mahendra Jivan Vasava, Raman Barkat Vasava and Jitu Punabhai Vasava respectively.
All the four have been arrested. Paresh Vasava and the four hail from the same Kakariya village. Five other people, including a maulvi, who are from nearby towns and villages, are absconding.
Vasava’s police complaint states that all the accused persons “lured innocent Hindu tribals of the village with money and in some cases built houses for them and converted them into Islam”.
The complaint said the converted Hindu tribals were later entrusted the responsibility to convert other tribal Hindus. This way, 100 Adivasis from 35 families of Kakariya village were converted between 2006 and 2018. They, including Vasava, have been threatened with serious consequences if they re-converted to the Hindu religion.
Bharuch District Superintendent of Police (SC/ST Cell) Madhubhai Bhojani told mediapersons that the statements of the arrested four persons had been recorded and search was on for the other five.