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First case under new ordinance against unlawful conversion lodged in U.P.

Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath at the Raj Bhawan in Lucknow. File photo   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Uttar Pradesh Police have lodged the first case under the new ordinance against unlawful conversion a day after it was promulgated.

An FIR was lodged by the police in Bareilly under Sections 3 and 5 of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, which was cleared by the State Cabinet earlier this week and promulgated on November 27 by Governor Anandiben Patel.

Bareilly police said the FIR was lodged against a person in Deorania police station on charges of allegedly trying to coerce a 20-year-old girl to convert her to his religion and marry him.

Sections 504 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code were also invoked.

The FIR was lodged on the complaint of Tikaram Rathore, a resident of Sharifnagar village, late on Friday. Mr. Tikaram alleged that the accused person had developed a friendship with his daughter during their education and wanted to “coerce, coax and allure her into converting”.

 

“Despite repeated disapprovals by me and my family, he [the boy] is not listening, and is applying pressure on me and my family through abuses and death threats...,” alleged Mr. Tikaram.

Superintendent of Police (Rural) Bareilly Sansar Singh said a case under kidnapping the girl had been lodged against the boy earlier. “He was pressuring her to convert from her religion and marry,” Mr. Singh said.

The accused is absconding and attempts were on to arrest him, said the officer.

'Issue resolved in 2019'

The woman’s brother Kesarpal Rathore, however, said that the case involving the accused had been resolved in 2019. His sister had also married another boy in May this year, he said.

Mr. Kesarpal said that the family did not approach the police for the latest FIR, claiming that police came to their house and questioned them about the earlier case. The police then took his father Tikaram with them to the police station, Mr. Kesarpal told The Hindu.

“Police came to our house. And said there was an old file lying [with them]. Police told me they are taking him [father] to the police station for questioning for some investigation,” he said.

 

Mr. Kesarpal said that his sister had eloped with the boy in October 2019 but was soon located in three-four days with the help of police.

The matter was closed in the Bareilly district court as the family of the girl wanted to keep the matter under wraps, said Mr. Kesarpal and a police officer.

“The case had come to an end one year ago with the court decision,” Mr. Kesarpal said, claiming that there was no contact between the boy and the girl after the settlement and her subsequent marriage.

Station Officer Deorania Daya Shankar, however, said the accused was constantly harassing and pressuring the girl and her family even after her marriage. “Even yesterday, he had issued a threat, said the [girl’s father],” Mr. Shankar told The Hindu.

“Even after she got married he was bothering her,” the officer said.

The girl’s family had earlier filed a case under kidnapping against the boy but due to social honour and concerns about her marriage, they changed the statement to keep the matter under wraps, the officer said.

 

“They had changed their statements, so that they don’t face any hurdles in getting the girl married. They rescued their own honour,” said the officer.

Uske baad bhi yeh aadmi peecha nahi chor raha hai unka (Even after that this person was relentless in his pursuit),” Mr. Shankar said.

The officer also said that the complaint against the accused, on the basis of which the FIR was registered, was received on Saturday itself.

Both the girl and the boy are adults, he clarified.

The accused boy, who lives in the same village as the girl, is a scrap labourer, said the Station House Officer.

New ordinance

The ordinance makes religious conversion a cognisable and non-bailable offence inviting penalties up to 10 years in prison if found to be effected for marriage or through misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or other allegedly fraudulent means.

Violation of the provisions of the law would invite a jail term of not less than one year extendable to five years with a fine of ₹15,000. However, if a minor, a woman or person belonging to the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribes communities was converted through the said unlawful means, the jail term would be a minimum of three years and could be extended to 10 years with a fine of ₹25,000.

The ordinance also lays down strict action against mass conversions, which would invite a jail term of not less than three years and up to 10 years and a fine of ₹50,000.

As per Section 4 of the ordinance, any aggrieved person, his or her parents, brother, sister or any other person who is related to him or her by blood, marriage or adoption may lodge an FIR of unlawful conversion.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2021 10:48:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/first-case-under-new-unlawful-conversion-ordinance-lodged-in-up-hours-after-promulgation/article33204439.ece

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