Updated: July 6, 2021 12:40:24 am
A local court in Vadodara on Monday sent the maulvi of a masjid in Navayard area of the city to one-day police custody following his arrest in the second case registered under the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, at Fatehgunj police station in Vadodara on June 24.
The maulvi is the fourth accused in the case, apart from the husband of the victim and his brother and father.
PH Bhesaniya, Assistant Commissioner of Police, A Division, said that the maulvi presided over the nikah ceremony of the victim and the accused husband in 2020. Bhesaniya said, “The maulvi visited the house of the accused and conducted the nikah as well as overseen the conversion of the girl, against her will. They had not taken the permission of the District Collector, which was mandatory even before the amendment of the Act. We arrested him on Sunday night and produced him before the magistrate on Monday.”
According to the FIR registered at Fatehgunj police station, the 30-year-old man first married the woman under the Special Marriage Act in Vadodara in 2020, on assurance that she would not have to convert. The woman began to cohabit with the accused and also brought along articles of her faith, in order to be able to follow her religion, the complaint states.
The FIR states that the two were living together from August 20, 2020. However, the husband and his family members began to force the complainant to convert.
“They forcefully performed a formal nikah ceremony and changed her name. The husband also destroyed photographs and other items of religious belief that she had in her possession… and forced her to indulge in unnatural sexual acts, causing her anguish and physical torture,” the FIR states.
The FIR also states that the husband’s elder brother, a co-accused in the case, allegedly tried to molest the complainant when she was alone at home. The amended legislation prescribes penal action ranging from three to 10 years imprisonment for forced and fraudulent conversions for marriage. The accused have also been booked under IPC sections 354 for unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures, 498A for domestic violence, 377 for unnatural sex, 504 for intentionally insulting and provoking with the intention to break public peace as well as 114 for abetment of crime.
Bhesaniya said that victim’s parents were not part of the nikah ceremony held in the house of the accused.
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