The police in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, on Saturday arrested a Muslim man and his brother under the new anti-conversion law while he was in the process of registering his marriage to a Hindu woman from Bijnore.
The couple, who arrived at the registration office in Kanth, were handed over to the police by the members of a right-wing outfit who prevented them from completing the registration process.
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The woman said she was an adult and married the man on July 24 in Dehradun of her free will. “I got married willingly. I am an adult, aged 22,” the woman told journalists, adding that they had been friends for two years.
They had been staying in Kanth, from where the man hails, for the past four to five months, she said. It was not clear if the woman or the man had changed their religion.
While members of the right-wing outfit took credit for the arrest, the police claimed that they acted on information provided by the woman’s parents.
The two brothers were booked under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020. It is the fifth such case to be lodged under the new law. After a 21-year-old man was arrested in Bareilly, seven persons were arrested and eight booked in Sitapur, while 14 persons were booked in Mau and two charged in Muzaffarnagar.
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The FIR was lodged under Sections 3 and 5 of the new ordinance on the basis of a complaint filed by the mother of the woman, Kanth station house officer Ajay Gautam said. In her complaint, the mother alleged that the man induced her daughter into marriage and converted her on the pretext of getting her a job.
When pointed out that the woman was consensually registering her marriage, Mr. Gautam said “all things will come out during the probe”.
“She will get an opportunity to say what she wants in court,” the officer said.
When asked by reporters if the couple had registered a court marriage, Moradabad Assistant Superintendent of Police (Rural), Vidya Sagar Mishra, said so far no such evidence had been presented before the police.
Members of the right-wing group, who spoke to the local media, said they reached the Kanth tehsil office after receiving inputs that a Hindu woman from Dehradun had come to Kanth with a Muslim man for conversion and court marriage.
“When I arrived with my workers, they (the couple) had left the tehsil premises. We chased them and caught hold of them them near a Ravidas temple,” a leader said.