The Uttar Pradesh Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested two men from New Delhi on the charges of mass conversion of people into Islam through inducements such as marriage, job and money and mental pressure.
An ATS officer said the duo targeted women as well as unemployed, poor and physically challenged people.
The two have been identified as Mufti Kazi Jahageer Alam Kasmi, 52, and Mohammad Umar Gautam, 57. They run an organisation named Islamic Dawah Centre (IDC) along with their associates, which had allegedly been carrying out large-scale conversions for the past one-and-a-half years. Gautam himself converted to Islam a few years back, an ATS officer said as reported by The Hindu.
The duo and Islamic Dawah Centre India were booked under Sections 420, 120 B, 153A, 153B, 295 and 511 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3/5 the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020.
The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, provides a jail term for up to 10 years for any violation. The ordinance prohibits any religious conversion due to coercion, force, undue influence, allurement, fraud or by marriage and makes such a marriage liable to be declared void. It also makes such an act of conversion a non-bailable criminal offence.
Umar Gautam, who had converted to Islam from Hindu religion, allegedly converted 1,000 persons in Uttar Pradesh and got many of them married to Muslims, the ATS said in a statement. Gauta was into mass conversion of non-Muslims, especially deaf and mute students, women, children and those from weaker and vulnerable sections, claimed the police.
Additional Director General, Law and Order, Prashant Kumar said large transactions had been discovered while looking into the accounts of the accused and IDC, including allegedly foreign funds.
Kumar added they had stumbled upon this while questioning two people arrested on the charge of disguising their identities to gain entry into Dasana Devi temple in Ghaziabad recently, and for planning to assassinate its head priest Swami Yati Narsinghanand. He had been accused of making "inflammatory remarks" about the Prophet Muhammad at a Press Club of India event in the national capital.
The police claim that the two clerics who were arrested received monetary support from foreign nations and international organisations. The police alleged Gautam and his associates used IDC to carry out the mass conversion and also received foreign funding, including from the ISI, for it. Qasmi, the second accused, illegally issued conversion certificates and marriage certificates for those converted.
Meanwhile, the police claimed to have traced at least two of their alleged victims, both students of a Noida school for the deaf. Officials said the family of one of the boys lives in Kanpur and had lodged a missing complaint. Recently, the boy reportedly got in touch with them and said that he was in South India and had converted. The other boy's family lives in Gurugram.