My career and image are ruined; I have a police case against me now, says first man arrested under U.P.’s ‘Love Jihad’ law

Uvaish Ahmed, the first person to be arrested under the new ordinance against unlawful conversion in U.P., says the allegations against him are ‘totally false’

December 27, 2020 11:11 pm | Updated December 28, 2020 01:40 am IST - LUCKNOW

A 21-year-old Muslim man from Bareilly, who was the first person to be arrested under the new ordinance against unlawful conversion in Uttar Pradesh , fears the case could hinder his aspirations of joining the Indian Army.

Out on bail after serving three weeks behind bars, Uvaish Ahmad claimed the charges against him were baseless and alleged that the police charged him under the ordinance in its eagerness to lodge the first FIR, barely 24 hours after the ordinance was promulgated.

Also read | 11 FIRs under U.P. ordinance so far

“My career and image are ruined. I have a police case against me now. I wanted to enter a government job. I was preparing to join the Army. That was my main goal,” Mr. Ahmad regretfully told The Hindu on Sunday, three days after his release from the district jail in Bareilly.

On November 28, Mr. Ahmad was booked under Sections 3 and 5 of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 on charges of allegedly trying to coerce a 20-year-old married Hindu woman, who went to school with him, to convert her to his religion and marry him.

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

Also read | Etah Police declare bounty for accused under unlawful conversions ordinance

“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. Rathore in his police complaint.

Mr. Ahmad describes the allegations as “totally false”.

He said he was more concerned about building a career first before thinking of marriage.

“The government should see why are they are falsely implicating me. Maybe because I am a Muslim?” asked he. “Why has not a single case come up where the boy is Hindu and the girl is Muslim?” he further asked, referring to the dozen cases lodged under the new ordinance so far.

Also read | Allahabad High Court reunites interfaith couple in Etah

A case under kidnapping was lodged against Mr. Ahmad in October 2019 after the girl’s family accused him of eloping with her. However, she was soon recovered by police and the matter was resolved through a court settlement. In her statement, she had said that she had run away from her home alone and on her own will, said Mr. Ahmad, adding that he was at home when she ran away due to “some pressure” at home.

Corroborating the girl’s brother’s earlier statement that the matter had ended there, Mr. Ahmad said that after she got married to someone else in May 2020, he had not been in touch with her or her family. “When the case was lodged, I was not even at home but at my brother’s in-laws place,” he said.

Mr. Ahmad says that the girl and he had studied together in school and indicated they had shared a relationship in the past.

“Whatever there was, friendship or love, ended a year ago. Then she got married. After that, we had no link. I don’t even know where she was married, in which village,” Mr. Ahmad said.

Till last year, Mr. Ahmad was pursuing a B.Sc in Biology when the kidnapping allegations forced him to abandon his studies and relocate to Delhi, where he worked dealing in scrap. “I didn’t want to live in the village any more,” he said.

Police had accused Mr. Ahmad of constantly threatening and harassing the girl and her family even after she was married to someone else in May. However, Mr. Ahmad claims no such thing happened. “Do they have proof that I am constantly threatening them? If I would have threatened or harassed them, the neighbours would have also heard it. Did anyone hear this? Normally, the entire village gets to know even if there is a small fight and it becomes a spectacle,” he said.

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