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Kannauj man accused under U.P. conversion ordinance gets bail

His Hindu wife testified that she had married him of her own will.

A Muslim man from Kannauj, who was jailed under Uttar Pradesh’s strict anti-conversion law in December 2020 on charges of allegedly hiding his identity to marry a Hindu woman, has been granted bail by the Allahabad High Court. The Hindu woman submitted an affidavit to the district police supporting the case of her husband.

Mohammad Taufiq Khan was accused by the father of the woman, Priya Verma, of hiding his identity and going under a false name to trap her in love for marriage. A case was registered against Mr. Khan at Gursahaiganj police station under Section 3/5 of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020. Sections 419 (cheating for impersonation), 420 (cheating), 496 and 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code were also slapped against him on the complaint of the woman’s father Subash Chandra Verma.

Mr. Khan’s counsel submitted that the woman was a major born in 1991, and that she and the accused had been in a relationship for the last 3-4 years and performed their marriage on their own will as per Hindu rites and rituals. Mr. Khan also said he never pressurised Ms. Verma to change her religion.

The woman’s counsel submitted in court that she had filed an affidavit before the Superintendent of Police Kannauj supporting Mr. Khan. She said she was in a relationship with him and performed marriage on her own will. Nothing was concealed about his religion or name, she told the police.

Justice Neeraj Tiwari granted bail to Mr. Khan in an order dated March 18.

Conversion case

In another case, two women from Prayagraj who were arrested along with a Korean national and an Indian man on charges of allegedly trying to entice two Hindu women into conversion into Christianity in Gautam Buddha Nagar were also granted bail by the court.

In an order dated March 23, Seema and Sandhya were granted bail by Justice Vivek Varma.

South Korean national Minkaygali alias Anmol and three others Seema, Sandhya and Umesh Kumar of Prayagraj were booked by the police on charges of using enticement to convert people to Christianity in Surajpur last year. They have been in jail since December 20, 2020.

The FIR lodged at Surajpur police station in Gautam Buddh Nagar on December 19, 2020 under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020 also evoked Section 295a of the Indian Penal Code (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings).

The complainant Anita Sharma, who worked as a security guard in a private firm but had to leave her job due to illness, claimed the accused persons had approached her during the lockdown and helped her with ration and ₹7,000. The accused then started inviting her to a temporary church in Malakpur every weekend, even sending a car to pick her up, and offered her more money to the tune of ₹10 lakh and ration if she removed the images of Hindu gods and goddesses from her house, Anita alleged.

The counsel for the petitioners contended that they were peace loving persons and never compelled the complainant or any other person for conversion of religion nor offered any money for conversion.

In another case, on March 19, a Bench of Justice Pankaj Bhatia granted bail to a Muslim woman in Etah who was a co-accused in an FIR lodged under kidnapping, criminal conspiracy and Section 5 (1) of the new ordinance. While pleading for bail, the counsel for the accused Nisha Naaj of Jalesar said that she had given birth to twins six months ago and was lodged in jail since December 2020. “No useful purpose would be served in keeping the applicant in custody at the cost of her two minor children,” the court said.

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