Family members and relatives of the Muslim man booked under the new ordinance Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020 have left their houses and village “fearing police harassment” in Bareilly. The accused, Uwaish Ahmad, first to have been booked under the law, is still absconding and police have formed teams to arrest him.
A team raided the house of a relative in Rampur but couldn’t find him there. Sources claimed some of Ahmad’s relatives have been detained in a bid to “force the accused to surrender”.
Bareilly ASP (rural) Sansaar Singh said, “We are questioning people known to the accused to find his hideout.”
Some members of the aggrieved Hindu family and Hindu groups in the area now want police to slap the new ordinance against accused in old cases as well, but police have so far turned down their demand of law enforcement with retrospective effect.
Muslims in the area are now feeling the pressure. Salman Hasan Khan Qadri, vice-president of Dargah-e-Ala Hazrat, said, “People will be forced to live under the shadow of fear. This may disturb the communal harmony. There are high chances that the law would be abused like it happened in the Deorania case. The statement of the woman is not yet recorded and she had never made any complaint against the man. Police should have registered the case after initial investigation only. Now, the family members and relatives of the man have left their house fearing police action. Even in other cases, people are politicizing the matter and projecting it as love jihad. We are trying to contact the affected families to lend support. If needed, we will speak with senior officials and take the support of the judicial system to ensure justice for the affected people.”
Deputy Inspector General Rajesh Kumar Pandey said, “There is no way that the new law could be slapped in an old case. Even in the Deorania case, we will record the statement of the woman and her father soon and take the necessary action. The accused is absconding and we are trying to arrest him. His family members are also missing but police had never put pressure or harassed them as none of them is an accused in this case. The security in the village has been increased to ensure peace.”
When asked if the woman was threatened by the accused, a senior cop, on the condition of anonymity, told The Times of India, “It is a part of the investigation. The woman had expressed to marry the accused but later changed her statement during a village panchayat. She had attempted to elope with the accused as well. There is a chance that the new law could be misused unless the court takes cognisance.”
In another alleged case of love jihad reported from Izzatnagar area of Bareilly, police refused to incorporate the new law in the FIR as the complaint was lodged a day before the law was promulgated. In another case, the police said if the girl knew beforehand that the boy was a Muslim, it couldn’t be a case of love jihad.