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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Questioned in conversion racket, Saharanpur man heads to Supreme Court — on foot

Praveen has been walking from Saharanpur for the last four days. His destination — the Supreme Court, which he plans to approach for being wrongly named in a religious conversion racket by Uttar Pradesh ATS last month.

Written by Amil Bhatnagar | New Delhi |
Updated: August 1, 2021 7:09:24 am
For three days, Praveen Kumar said, he was questioned about allegedly receiving foreign funding to convert people to Islam and a potential terror plot.

After navigating the busy Delhi-Meerut road on foot for hours, Praveen Kumar halts for a small break, keeping his trolley bag by the highway to take a sip of water. Praveen has been walking from Saharanpur for the last four days. His destination — the Supreme Court, which he plans to approach for being wrongly named in a religious conversion racket by Uttar Pradesh ATS last month.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Praveen, who claims to have published books on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP CM Yogi Adityanath and their vision to take the country forward, said he was brought to Lucknow for questioning last month by the ATS.

For three days, he said, he was questioned about allegedly receiving foreign funding to convert people to Islam and a potential terror plot.

“Police officers believed I had changed my name to Samad and was in some way part of this criminal conspiracy. I cooperated with them fully and answered all their questions,” he said. “They did not find anything incriminating and dropped me back to Saharanpur. I was innocent in their eyes but my problems had only begun.”

Praveen Kumar on the Delhi-Meerut highway on Saturday. (Photo: Amil Bhatnagar)

UP Police said his name had cropped up in a list recovered from the main accused in the alleged conversion racket, Umar Gautam, following his arrest from Delhi’s Jamia Nagar earlier this month. “It was routine procedure since his name was in the list being probed. We gathered details on the basis of which we questioned him. He was let go after that. Several angles of the racket are being probed,” said Prashant Kumar, ADG, Law and Order.

Over the next few days, Praveen said, he was ostracised within his community, with residents of his village, Shitala Khera, calling him a “terrorist” and “traitor”. He said he woke up to a threat letter one morning, which stated that he was a ‘Pakistani Musalman’ and that he ought to leave the country.

After this, Praveen said he decided to walk to the Supreme Court.

Praveen said he studied at a local college in Saharanpur. A father of two children, he claims to have published the books ‘Namo Gatha Modi Ek Vichar’ and ‘Yogi Raj se Yogiraj Tak’ in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

“The books talk about the rise of the two leaders and the way they have governed. It is also an appeal that they must look at the importance of social unity. I still believe there is no alternative to their rule,” he said.

On Tuesday morning, Praveen had approached the Saharanpur DM and submitted a memorandum in this regard. He then packed some clothes, two books, and left, reaching Ghaziabad after four days of walking with halts at night. “I hope the apex court will understand my circumstances and help me prove my dedication to this country,” he said.

“There are two lines (in one of my books) that sum up everything — makaan bana rahe hain, ghar ko ujaad rahe hain (they are building a house but ruining the home).There is a constant divide in the country in the name of religion. When the rule is good, society is built. Now only the country is being looked at, not the people,” he said.

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