Delhi HC asks police to give protection to U.P. woman who wilfully converted to Islam

In her petition, the woman says she is facing ‘extreme threat to her life and that of her immediate family members from U.P. police, the media and vigilante groups’.

July 01, 2021 12:49 pm | Updated 12:49 pm IST - New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the police to ensure the safety of a young woman from Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, who had wilfully converted her religion from Hinduism to Islam, till her case is heard by a regular Bench of the High Court on July 5.

A Vacation Bench of Justice C. Hari Shankar said, “It is made clear that this Vacation Bench is not expressing any opinion one way or the other regarding the correctness of the averments [made in petition by the woman]”.

“However, given the fact that the petitioner is a young girl who has expressed her apprehension regarding her security, the limited directions to the Respondents 1 and 2 (Delhi Police) to take adequate steps to protect the life and safety of the petitioner, till the matter is taken up the regular Bench on July 5,” Justice Shankar said. The High Court reopens on July 5 after a month-long summer break.

“This is a matter which appropriately should be taken up by the regular Bench as per roster, given the nature of averments in the petition,” Justice Shankar added.

Renu Gangwar, in her petition, said on May 27 this year she converted from Hinduism to Islam religion with her “own free will and without any threat or coercion from anyone”. Following this the 29-year-old changed her name to Ayesha Alvi, which was published in some newspapers.

Ms. Alvi, who is a resident of Tilhar, Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh and working in Delhi, subsequently started getting calls from different mediapersons seeking a meeting. However, even after her refusal, the mediaperson came to her place in Tilhar, and against her wishes took photographs and videos without her permission.

“The petitioner [Ms. Alvi] is facing extreme threat to her life and that of her immediate family members who are being witch-hunted by the officials of the Uttar Pradesh Police as also by the media channels and the vigilante groups,” she stated in her plea.

Threats, demand for money

One particular mediaperson demanded money while threatening to publish the news about her conversion. “When she denied, he threatened again. Thereafter, he forcefully took ₹20,000 from her,” said the petition filed through advocate Kamlesh Kumar Mishra and Nitin Kumar Nayak.

Following this incident, Ms. Alvi made a complaint to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, on June 24 seeking immediate intervention for her protection.

“Thereafter certain other mediapersons also came and they started making similar demands. Some other persons and organisations also started threatening me and my family to force me to reconvert to Hinduism. Feeling threatened, I came back to Delhi today i.e June 24, 2021,” she said in her police complaint.

“On June 26, 2021, the petitioner has been informed that her father has been taken away by the officials of the Uttar Pradesh Police and they are coming to Delhi and would take her back to Uttar Pradesh where she would be forced to file false complaint/FIR,” the petition stated.

The petition further stated that Ms. Alvi was “under immediate threat of being taken away by force or coercion to the State of Uttar Pradesh by the agencies of the State or any other person”.

Ms. Alvi said she was “an adult and she is protected by the Constitution to choose her own faith and she cannot be targeted and harassed for the choice she makes with regard to the religion she follows”.

She has urged the High Court to protect her from being taken away from its jurisdiction “by force or coercion and or by way of any other illegal means by the agencies of the State or any other person”.

The petition also urged the High Court “to ensure protection of the life, liberty, safety and security of the petitioner, her family member and friends and they be not harassed and interrogated with regard to the conversion of the petitioner”.

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