The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) has arrested a cleric at about 9 PM on 21 September from Meerut for running a “religious conversion racket”, a senior police official said on 22 September. A resident of Muzzafarnagar, Maulana Kaleem Siddiqui was arrested as part of the ATS’s investigation into the alleged racket, Additional Director General (ADG), Law and Order, Prashant Kumar said.
ATS brought the maulana to the department’s headquarters after producing him in a court, Kumar said.
According to sources, Siddiqui has been running conversion activities through his trusts and NGOs situated in Delhi. These centres have been identified as Shah Waliullah Trust, Global Peace Centre and Peace Mission (Mustafabad), Madrassa Sabeel-us-Salam (Jamia Nagar), Dawat-e-Ilsiam Trust (DEIT), Mewat, World Peace Organisation among others.
Siddiqui is one of the most prominent clerics from western Uttar Pradesh.
Maulana Kaleem Siddiqui received funds from some overseas accounts of Dar ul Uloom Deoband through his trust Shah Waliullah, and “the fund was reportedly used in the construction of Madrassas in Punjab and Haryana in the name of Shah Waliullah. His missionary work is spread over the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Punjab, Haryana and Orissa”, the sources said.
Following the arrest of Delhi’s Jamia Nagar residents Mufti Qazi Jahangir Alam Qasmi and Mohammad Umar Gautam, who ran the Islamic Dawah Centre, an outfit allegedly working on the ISI funding for converting deaf-mute students to Islam, on 20 June, the ATS is probing the conversion racket and has so far arrested 10 people besides Siddiqui, an official said.
The officer said that the ATS came to know that UK-based Al-Falaa Trust funded Md Umar Gautam and his accomplice to the tune of Rs 57 crore, but the duo did not divulge details of its expenditure. The ATS found that Siddiqui was involved in the illegal conversion racket under the garb of running educational, social and religious organisations, Kumar said.
Sources further said that Kaleem Siddiqi was often termed as “Khahfa of Ali Mian in Dawah activities” — the kingpin of the conversion racket (It is expected that Maulana Kaleem Siddiqi had converted over 5 lakh people to Islam, mostly in Mewat region).
He runs Dawat ul Islam to target non-Muslims and is engaged in tablighi (Arabic term for “conversion to Islam”) work, particularly among lower caste Hindus.
“They frequently distribute a book Aap ki Amanat Aap ki Sewa Men among non-Muslims for dawah activities, which abuses Hindu religion and its practices, alluring non-Muslim women and inciting Muslims to convert large scale Hindus,” sources said.
The investigation so far suggests that Rs 1.5 crore was transferred into the trust account illegally from Bahrain and evidence of Rs 3 crore funding was found, Kumar said. He said six teams of the ATS were probing the case.
The Uttar Pradesh ATS arrests in the alleged conversion racket have prompted the Enforcement Directorate to initiate a probe to investigate foreign funding and money laundering. Those arrested have been booked under relevant sections of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2020 and the Indian Penal Code, as per the officials.