New Delhi: The Uttar Pradesh Police have arrested Umar Gautam, a converted Muslim previously known as Pratap Singh Gautam and Mufti Jahangir Qasmi under the state’s draconian anti-conversion law. The police have accused them of having forcibly converted 1,000 Hindus to Islam but interestingly not a single one of them have alleged forceful conversion. None of the alleged converts have filed any complaint or spoken to the media about being forced to accept Islam.
Supreme Court lawyer Khalid Akhtar says the police do not need any victim’s complaint to arrest someone under Uttar Pradesh’s anti-conversion law because the burden of proof has been put on the accused. Thus, the accused are required to prove they are innocent.
”The law is a tool to indiscriminately arrest and punish anybody with reverse onus of proof. It instils fear to freely follow once conscience guaranteed under article 25,” Akhtar added.
Prashant Kumar, additional director general of the UP Police, have said that they unearthed the “conversion racket” while investigating a case filed at Ghaziabad’s Masuri police station.
The case was filed on June 4 against Mohd Ramzan alias Vipul Vijayvargiya and his brother-in-law Mohd Kashif who had allegedly tried going into Ghaziabad’s Dasna temple by hiding their identities, Kumar alleged, with the aim of assassinating its priest, Yati Narsighanand Saraswati.
The investigation into Ramzan and Kashif, Kumar claimed, led the ATS to Umar Gautam who they allegedly found was involved in the “forced conversion” of about 1,000 Hindus.
However, scores of converted Muslims and Hindus have rubbished the police version and raised their strong concerns against the criminalisation of Maulana Umar Gautam by the Indian media.
Saurabh Dutt Sharma, currently known as Mohammad Sufiyan, told this correspondent that he was in touch with Umar Gautam since 2013 but he never pressurised him to change his religious identity. ”He is wrongly being criminalised by the media, which is not good for our country. This tends to damage social harmony in the country,” he added.
Another converted Muslim named Dinesh says he met Maulana Gautam after he found that Islam was the true religion. ”He did not ask me to convert immediately. Rather he gave some books and asked to study more. He asked me to come back when I am completely satisfied about Islam,” he said.
Like Sharma and Dinesh, several other non-Muslims and converted Muslims have spoken about their experience with Maulana Gautam. Their video bytes have been published by Muslim Mirror, Millat Times and Maktoob Media etc.Sharma stated that Maulana Gautam and his organisation, Islamic Dawah Centre, was involved in spreading the true messages of Islam and helping people remove their misconceptions about the religion. The IDC also helped converted Muslims get legal conversion certificates issued.He added that the conversion certificates were issued under the relevant provisions of the constitution that allows people to choose or quit any religion.
Mr Guatam is a converted Muslim. He embraced Islam in 1984 and lived with his family members in Batla House, South Delhi.