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Gujarat High Court notice to state on plea over quashing religious conversion FIR

🔴 Vasava in his complaint stated that the accused people “lured innocent Hindu tribals of the village with money and in some cases built houses for them and converted them into Islam”

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad |
December 23, 2021 3:49:59 am
Gujarat High Court, religious conversion, religion coversion, Gujarat news, Indian Express, India news, current affairs, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India NewsIn the order issued on Tuesday, the court has instructed the state government through its additional public prosecutor to take necessary instructions and “submit a report” by the next date of hearing, scheduled for January 10, 2022. (File)

The Gujarat High Court has issued notice to the state government in a petition seeking quashing of an FIR registered in November at Amod police station in Bharuch, alleging forced religious conversion.

In the order issued on Tuesday, the court has instructed the state government through its additional public prosecutor to take necessary instructions and “submit a report” by the next date of hearing, scheduled for January 10, 2022.

The petitioners — Shabbir Bakerywala, Samaj Bakerywala, Hasan Tissli and Ismail Achhodwala — have been named in the FIR but are not arrested. A total of nine persons were named in the FIR, of which five have been arrested. Six others, not named in the FIR, were arrested on December 16, taking the total arrests in the case to 10. The six persons arrested later allegedly collected funds through donations from foreign countries and allegedly used these funds for luring tribals and constructing a prayer house.

Arguing in the court of Justice Ilesh Vora, senior advocate Percy Kavina submitted that “there is a gross delay in filing the present FIR, which clearly suggests that the FIR is an afterthought and filed with a motive to harass” the petitioners. Praveen Vasava, the complainant in the FIR, alleged that he was converted into Islam by the accused in 2018 and was rechristened as Salman Vasant Patel.

It was also submitted by Kavina that as per section 6 of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, prosecution under the Act is barred as previous sanction of the District Magistrate is necessary, which was not taken.

Apart from seeking quashing of the FIR, the petitioners also sought protection against coercive steps, pending a decision on the petition.

Advocate on record in the case Yashma Mathur told The Indian Express that the key grounds being canvassed by the petitioners include that they have no criminal antecedents.

“Even if conversion took place, these were not forced conversions and thus would not fall under section 153(A) of IPC(promoting disharmony) or under the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act. The complainant is walking up to the police station after three-and-a-half years which only proves the FIR was an afterthought. Two others named are those who converted 15 years ago. Further, the police kept on adding sections to the FIR, later including forgery and offences punishable under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,” said Mathur.

Vasava in his complaint stated that the accused people “lured innocent Hindu tribals of the village with money and in some cases built houses for them and converted them into Islam”, and according to Vasava, the converted Hindu tribals were later entrusted with the task of converting others from the community.

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