Express News Service
LUCKNOW: Eight persons, who were arrested by the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) of the Uttar Pradesh Police since June, for being allegedly involved in illegal conversions of over 1,000 people, have been charged with “waging war against India”.
Accepting the application of the ATS, the special Lucknow court invoked the charges under Section 121-A (conspiracy to commit offences punishable by section 121) and 123 (concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage war) of the IPC against the eight arrested persons.
IPC Section 121 deals with waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the Government of India.
Initially, state ATS had appeared before the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Lucknow to seek permission to include Sections 121A and 123 in the FIR against the accused.
The CJM, however, found that the local court does not have the authority to pass decisions relating to sections 121 and 123 of the IPC.
The ATS then moved to the Special Court with their appeal to include the consequential sections of the IPC. While allowing the inclusion of the said sections, the court posted the matter for next hearing on September 14.
In its application, the ATS claimed that during the investigation, it was found that the group was not just involved in illegal conversion, but the accused also wanted to disrupt the population balance and create a rift among people of different religions.
On June 21 this year, UP ATS had zeroed in two clerics — Mohammad Umar Gautam and Mufti Qazi Jahageer Alam Qasmi — from Delhi and claimed to have busted a “huge conversion racket” that was allegedly involved in the conversion of “thousands of people”. The ATS had claimed that the two clerics were spearheading mass conversion of people into Islam through inducements such as marriage, money, job and coercion also.
The two clerics and the orgainsation owned by Mohammad Umar Gautam – Islamic Dawah Centre India—were booked under Sections 420, 120B, 153A, 153B, 295 and 511of India Penal Code. Even section 3/5 of UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religious Act-2021 was also imposed on the two.
UP ATS later arrested eight more persons claiming that the accused had carried out large-scale conversions under the banner of the Islamic Dawah Centre (IDC), which allegedly targeted children with disabilities, women, the unemployed, and the poor.
Of the 10 persons arrested, four are from Maharashtra, two from Delhi and one each from Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Haryana.
The eight against whom IPC sections 121-A and 123 have been invoked include Mohammad Umar Gautam, Mufti Qazi Jahageer Alam Qasmi, Salahuddin Zainuddin Sheikh, Irfan Sheikh alias Irfan Khan, Dr Faraz, Prasad Rameshwar Kaware alias Adam, Bhupriya Bando alias Arsalan and Kausar Alam.
The ATS claimed they had enough evidence to invoke Sections 121-A and 123 against the eight accused, and also submitted a case diary to the court.
Uttar Pradesh had passed the anti-conversion bill earlier this year. The bill penalises those who undertake conversions through marriage, deceit, coercion or incitement.