A 22-year-old man held under the new Uttar Pradesh anti-conversion law in Moradabad district and his brother were released on Saturday after two weeks in jail, following testimony by the woman he was alleged to have forcibly converted that she had married him willingly. The police said they had found no evidence against Rashid Ali or his brother Saleem, 25.
Rashid was going with Pinki, 22, to have their marriage registered on December 5 when they were accosted by alleged Bajrang Dal men, who accused Rashid of “love jihad”, and took them to the police. Saleem was with them at the time. While Rashid and Saleem were arrested, Pinki was sent to a shelter home.
Moradabad Additional Superintendent of Police (Rural) Vidya Sagar Mishra said, “In our report submitted before the court on Thursday, we had stated that, given the woman’s statement, no evidence could be found against the accused… We did not seek their remand… which cleared the way for the release of the accused.”
Earlier, after Pinki told the court that she was an adult and had willingly married Rashid, she had been allowed to leave with Rashid’s family.
Speaking to mediapersons after Rashid’s release, Pinki thanked mediapersons. While both she and Rashid blamed the Bajrang Dal for what had happened, the couple said they didn’t want to pursue the matter further. “We want to live in peace, I don’t want to take legal action against anyone,” Rashid said.
Additional SP Mishra said Rashid and Saleem were asked to submit personal bail bonds of Rs 50,000 each for release. Asked if the police will pursue the case, he said, “The investigation will go on. There is a process… There are many aspects in a probe. We will be following the process.”
Saleem told reporters the three of them were returning after meeting a judge who had told them to file an application before the district magistrate regarding the wedding. “Our lawyer said we should come back at 4 pm and he would file our application. Near the Ramlila ground, Bajrang Dal people caught us.”
Saleem said the officials at the police station treated them well and they were not assaulted in any manner. “We are out because of the legal set-up,” he said.
Pinki repeated on Saturday that she had lost the three-month-old baby she was carrying. She told The Indian Express she had received her ultrasound reports. “They (the doctors) told me I had some infection near the uterus and had lost my child.”
Rashid said he had only just come to know what had happened. “I told the Bajrang Dal men my wife is pregnant, but they hurled abuses at us. They dragged us to a police station and called my in-laws. We were then locked up and sent to a quarantine centre. I wasn’t able to meet my wife.”
Rashid added that Pinki and he met a year ago and she knew all along he is a Muslim. “I haven’t cheated her or forced her.”
Mishra said only doctors could comment on Pinki’s claims of having lost her baby.
Dr Nirmala Pathak, Acting Chief Medical Superintendent of Moradabad Mahila District Hospital, where Pinki was admitted twice on complaints of abdominal pain, while she was at the shelter, did not respond to several calls made by The Sunday Express.
District Magistrate Rakesh Kumar Singh, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr M C Garg and Deputy CMO Dr Deepak Verma could not be reached either.
District Probation Officer (Moradabad) Rajesh Chandra Gupta, who took Pinki to Mahila District Hospital after she complained of pain, refused to talk about her condition. “You should ask the doctors about it. My work was to get her admitted to the hospital,” Gupta said. On December 13, Gupta had said “fake news of girl’s miscarriage is being circulated on social media”.
Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Kanth, Himanshu Verma said he couldn’t talk about the alleged miscarriage “since the district hospital is not in my jurisdiction”. Additional District Magistrate (Administration) Laxmi Shankar Singh said, “She has given her statement in court. You should go to the court and find out what her statement was… I am an officer of the district administration. Does the district administration probe the pregnancy of a person?”
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