July 20, 2021 5:00:16 am
The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) on Monday claimed to have verified that a group led by two Delhi-based clerics now in police custody had illegally converted at least 900 people to Islam in 23 districts.
The two clerics — Umar Gautam and Mufti Qazi Jehangir Qasmi — are among nine people arrested for allegedly converting more than 1,000 people after luring them with offers of money, marriage, and jobs. Of the accused, three each are from Maharashtra and Delhi, and one each is from Haryana, Jharkhand and Gujarat.
The ATS said the verification process was going on in four more districts. The list, with names of around 1,000 people, was prepared during the interrogation of the accused. The names were then sent to the 27 districts for verification.
“On the basis of the list, police verification is going on. Several districts have sent the report. Four districts have yet to submit it,” said ATS Inspector-General GK Goswamy.
Sources said some people told officials during the verification exercise that their signatures were taken without consent on papers containing the details of their conversion. The police have not yet decided on getting the statements of such people recorded before a magistrate.
Last month, the ATS claimed to have busted the conversion racket after arresting six people, including the clerics. The agency claimed that the accused carried out large-scale conversions under the banner of the Islamic Dawah Centre (IDC). They allegedly used to target children with disabilities, women, the unemployed, and the poor by promising them a good education, marriage, jobs, and money.
The ATS is also investigating the funds that the IDC received through various means, including from abroad.
According to investigators, the IDC received around Rs 1.83 crore in cheques and cash between January 2010 and June 14, 2021. The money was wired from abroad, and the agency suspects hawala networks were involved in the transactions.
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