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Father of youth caught in UP conversion row says ‘shocked’ by son’s arrest

Mankar, who is an assistant sub-inspector with the Gadchiroli Police at Aheri, was informed about his son's arrest by one of his friends. He said he found it difficult to believe that his son had converted to Islam.

A day after Uttar Pradesh Police arrested 29-year-old Bhupriyavando Mankar — identified by UP police as “Arsalan Mustafa” — from Nagpur for his alleged involvement in a conversion row, his father, 54-year-old Devidas Mankar, said he was shocked beyond belief by the arrest.

Mankar, who is an assistant sub-inspector with the Gadchiroli Police at Aheri, was informed about his son’s arrest by one of his friends. He said he found it difficult to believe that his son had converted to Islam.

“The UP Police didn’t inform me about my son’s arrest. I came to know about it from one of his friends. They should have ideally informed me. I am trying to contact my son but his mobile phone appears to have been switched off,” Mankar told The Indian Express over the phone.

Asked if he was aware of his son’s conversion to Islam, Mankar said, “I have no idea. He never told me anything about it. For the past many years, he has been living in Nagpur for his studies… every few months, he used to come to Aheri for two to three days. But since the Covid lockdown began last year, he hasn’t come here.”

Originally hailing from Vaigaon village in Chamorshi tahsil of Gadchiroli, the Mankars belong to the Scheduled Caste Mahar community. “We belong to SC category. We didn’t convert to Buddhism. If I meet my son now, I would ask him: ‘Dr Ambedkar converted to Buddhism. Why did you choose Islam’?”

Besides Bhupriyavando, Mankar also has two more sons from his first wife and a daughter from the second. “My first wife died many years ago. Bhupriyavando is the eldest and is about 27 years old. Shubhankit, 24, works as veterinary doctor with a company at Nashik and Anup, 23, stays with me and is unemployed,” Mankar said.

He said he desperately wanted to talk to his son but didn’t know how that would be possible. “I want to talk to my son but don’t know if and when I will be able to do that,” he said.

Asked if he believes his son would be involved in any such activity that the UP Police are accusing him of, Mankar said, “I am inclined not to believe it because he never spoke about it to me. Never did I get any inkling about any such thought occurring to him at any point of time.”

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