June 21, 2021
Zafarul Islam Khan questions the arrest saying conversion is not a crime
Waquar Hasan | Clarion India
NEW DELHI – Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Uttar Pradesh Police on Monday arrested two Islamic preachers claiming that they have converted around 1,000 people to Islam.
These preachers Muhammed Umar Gautam and his aide Mufti Mohammed Jahangir are residents of Jamia Nagar in South Delhi.
An FIR was registered at Gomti Nagar Police Station in Lucknow against Gautam and Jahangir along with Islamic Dawah Centre and unknown people. The police have invoked several sections of IPC including Uttar Pradesh’s anti-conversion law against them. They were booked under IPC sections 420, 120-B, 153-A, 153-B, 295-A, 511 and sections 3 and 5 of UP Anti-Conversion Law.
In the FIR, the police claimed that they were converting people to “change demography balance of the country” and “damaging communal amity by creating hatred among the people against their original religion”.
“These people are running a campaign to destroy the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the country,” said the police in the FIR.
The police also claimed that they were converting “poor people from weaker sections by intimidating them and showing the greed of job and money” at mass level.
At a press conference in Lucknow on Monday, Uttar Pradesh ADG (Law and order) Prashant Kumar said “Both were arrested after interrogation. We have got important evidence, documents of foreign funding”.
Clarion India contacted Umar Gautam’s family on the phone to get their version of the story. His son picked up the phone but disconnected saying he will call later. He did not call till the time of filing this report.
However, the arrest of the Islamic preachers has been criticized by Muslim community. Former chairman of Delhi Minorities Commission Zafarul Islam Khan have questioned the arrest saying conversion is not a crime. It’s allowed under Section 25 of the constitution.
Tweeting about the arrest of Guatam, Khan said: “Umar Gautam has been sent to jail in Lucknow. He converted to Islam early in his life when he found that while people close to him deserted him in his ailment, Muslim friends stood with him. He is accused of converting people to Islam. Conversion is not a crime – it is allowed”.
He also said that linking these conversions, which is forced, to ISI is a bogus charge which will fall in the court.
“No question of forceful conversion by him. He is a nice person, a good Samaritan. I have known him for close to 3 decades. ATS claims about his “ISI links” are bogus, will fall by the wayside. Look at hundreds of acquittals in recent decades,” he further said.
Khan also told Clarion India that he is implicated in wrong cases. No complaint of forceful conversion came up. The agencies implicated innocent people many times. He also said that these arrests are being carried out to make it an issue for upcoming UP elections.
Delhi Waqf Board Chairman and AAP MLA Amantullah Khan called the arrest “an attack on our constitutional rights”. He said that the constitution grants the rights to propagate the religion and practice it.
“In the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections, the BJP wants to protect its sinking ship using unconstitutional methods by hook or by crook. The BJP government should stop misusing the law and the constitution and they must release those who were arrested unconstitutionally,” tweeted Khan.