A 16-year-old Dalit boy was reportedly kidnapped, converted to Islam and married to a 24-year-old woman in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. The woman, her family and a Muslim cleric have been arrested, an official informed on Wednesday, May 25.
For negligence during the investigation, two police officers were suspended, including the police station officer. The arrests took place after a video of their wedding was posted on social media.
Right-wing youth group Bajrang Dal took part in a protest outside Kakadeo police station on Monday, May 23.
Prohibition of illegal religious conversion
BBGTS Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) Murthy said the accused family, Mohammad Hanif, Jameela Bano, their daughter Simran and Muslim cleric Tauheed, who had married them, were arrested on Tuesday May 24.
Under Uttar Pradesh’s Unlawful Conversion of Religion Prohibition Act, they have been charged with forced conversion and marriage of an underage child and unlawful detention, as reported by The New Indian Express.
The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act came into force in November 2020. It prohibits conversion of religion by “force, misrepresentation, undue influence and seduction, or fraud, or marriage“. Furthermore, the person can be punished if he encourages, convinces and conspires in such conversions as cited in PRS India.
According to the new law, marriage performed within these parameters can be declared null and void if its sole purpose was illegal conversion or if the correct procedure was not followed as stated in this law.
The boy and Simran had met online through a social media site where they used to chat. He had left home in Gorakhpur after working in a restaurant on Saturday May 21. He returned home the next day and informed his mother that he was at Simran’s house.
The boy’s mother filed an FIR saying: “he was given something to eat after which he felt dizzy. He was later forced to convert to Islam and marry her“, as reported by The Print.
Police sources also informed that Simran has a three-year-old daughter from her previous marriage and her husband left her two years ago.
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