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U.P. ATS arrests cleric in illegal conversion case

Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad arrested prominent cleric Maulana Kaleem Siddiqui in the illegal-conversion racket case, from Meerut on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, ATS presented him before a court in Lucknow that refused to grant police custody. “He was sent to 14-day judicial custody,” said Abu Bakr Sabbaq, Mr. Siddiqui's advocate

Mr. Siddiqui hailed from Muzaffarnagar, but spent most of his time in Delhi. Local sources said the cleric was arrested when he came out after attending a programme in a madarsa in the Lisadi Gate area in Meerut.

According to an official release, Mr. Siddiqui had direct links with the illegal conversion racket that was busted by the ATS in June this year. The prime accused in the case, Umar Gautam, was arrested under sections 420, 120 (b), 153 (a), 153 (b), 295 and 511 of IPC and section 3/5 of Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act 2020.

During the investigation it was found that Mr. Siddiqui, who runs a trust in the name of Jamia Imam Waliullah, was involved illegal conversion racket that was run in the garb of educational, social, and religious institutions, the release said. A large amount of foreign funds was being used for illegal conversion in an organised fashion. “Proof of ₹3 crores in foreign funding has been found so far,” the release said.

It alleged that Mr Siddiqui was involved in running the biggest illegal conversion syndicate and used to fund madarsas as well. In the name of spreading the message of humanity, people were lured or forced to change their religion.

Mr. Sabbaq said the YouTube videos that had been attached as evidence against his client were already in the public domain. “If there is any doubt about the funds, we are ready for ED and Income Tax investigation,” he told The Hindu.

Haj Fazlur Rehman, the Bahujan Samaj Party MP from Saharanpur, described the arrest as a political stunt of the BJP, ahead of the Assembly polls. “The BJP should stop its agenda of hate and release Maulana Kaleem Siddiqui immediately,” he said in a tweet.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 3:09:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/up-ats-arrests-cleric-in-illegal-conversion-case/article36622143.ece

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