Bengaluru Police has arrested a Muslim man who had eloped with a Hindu woman on the charge of converting her to Islam in violation of the newly introduced state anti-conversion law — the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Act-2022. The case filed on 8 October at the Yeshwanthpur police station is the first under the newly enacted law against love jihad, which mainstream media refuses to recognise as a social pattern of Muslim men cheating non-Muslim women, which was notified by the state government on 30 September.
The police have registered two separate cases — one of suspected kidnapping, and another under the anti-conversion law — against Syed Muheen, 22, a resident of north Bengaluru, who allegedly eloped with his neighbour Khushboo Yadav, 18, and converted her to Islam to facilitate their marriage. Police arrested Muheen on the basis of a complaint filed by the girl’s mother, Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Vinayak Patil said.
Muheen and Khushboo were neighbours in the BK Nagar area of Yeshwanthpur and were courting for about six months. While Muheen worked at a chicken shop in the locality, Khushboo, one among four children in the family of a painter from Uttar Pradesh, had dropped out of school and was staying at home.
On 6 October, Khushboo’s mother Gyantidevi Yadav filed a missing complaint for her daughter stating that she is suspected to have eloped with Muheen. On 8 October, Muheen and Khushboo appeared before the police, claiming that they had married. The woman's mother then filed a second complaint under the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Act, 2022.
In her complaint, the mother said Muheen had taken her daughter to a dargah near Penukonda in Andhra Pradesh on 5 October and asked Khushboo to convert to Islam. After a ceremony at the dargah, Muheen brought Khushboo back to Bengaluru but the marriage was not solemnised, the mother said. “My daughter has been converted without following the rules which state that a report must be given to the district commissioner regarding any religious conversion to facilitate inter-religious marriages,” Gyanthidevi said in her complaint, demanding action against Muheen and others who facilitated the dubious marriage. She claimed further that her daughter lacked the intelligence of other girls and so took the decision to run away.
The state government notified the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Act, 2022, passed in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly in December 2021, and the state Legislative Council on 16 September 2022, on 30 September. It says, “No person shall convert or attempt to convert either directly or otherwise any other person from one religion to another by use of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage, nor shall any person abet or conspire for conversions.”
The law says a marriage will have legal recognition only if the conversion is brought to the notice of a district magistrate 30 days in advance or 30 days post-conversion. The law provides for a jail term of three to five years, and a fine of Rs 25,000, for violators in the case of people from general categories, and a jail term of three to 10 years, and a fine of Rs 50,000 for people converting minors, women, and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.