Bhopal: Two new cases under the recently passed anti-conversion law in Madhya Pradesh have been reported in the last 24 hours.
As per reports, in the tribal-dominated Seoni district, the police booked four people including a Christian pastor for allegedly forcing tribals to convert to Christianity on Saturday, February 7. While 700-km away, in Mandsaur district, the police have booked two Muslim youths from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor district on Monday for allegedly abducting two minor girls by hiding their identities in pretext of marriage.
The state has reported nearly eight cases of forced marriage by hiding religious identity and alleged religious conversion within a month since the MP Freedom of Religion Ordinance-2020 was introduced from January 9, 2021.
In four cases of alleged forced marriage or rape in pretext of marriage by hiding the original identity, police booked Muslim youths in -- Barwani, Bhopal, Dindori and Mandsaur district. In Indore, Balaghat and two cases of Seoni, police booked pastors and followers of Christian community for allegedly forcing and alluring tribals for conversion.
In the latest case, as per the Mandsaur Police’s official communique, two youths -- Sahil and Irfan Hasan -- residents of UP’s Bijnor reportedly connected with two minor girls from Mandsaur’s Suwasra through a missed call months ago.
Following this, both the youths allegedly faked their identities and took them to Bijnor in the last week of January 2021 proposing marriage, said a police report. However, the missing girls’ parents filed a report at Suwasra Police Station on February 1, after which the Mandsaur Police reportedly rescued both the girls from Chandpur colony of UP’s Bijnor.
The police managed to arrest Sahil from Bijnor, while Irfan reportedly escaped from the spot. The youths are now booked for kidnapping, rape in pretext of marriage under the Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribes Act, Prevention of Child Sexual Assault Act and the MP Freedom of Religion Act.
In the case in Seoni, a Christian pastor and three others were booked for allegedly forcing complainant Sumat Lal, 45, of Simariya village to embrace Christianity, under section 295 (A), 34 of the IPC and section five of MP Freedom of Religion Ordinance-2020.
According to Adegaon Police, they went to Simariya village on February 7 after receiving a tip from a trusted source. There the police detained Sumat Lal, who had organised a lunch for villagers after his two daughters recovered from a prolonged illness due to treatment by the pastor.
Also read: MP Police Reports First Case of ‘Love-Jihad’ Under New Freedom of Religion Law
During the police interrogation, Lal admitted that Joel Pastor and three others were forcing him to embrace Christianity and visited his home a number of times.
“But, before we reached the village, Joel Pastor and his three other supporters escaped from the village, but on complaint of Sumat Lal, we have filed an FIR against four people under the new anti-conversion law,” said Iswari Patle, Sub-inspector of Adegaon Police Station while speaking to NewsClick over phone.
“We haven’t found any literature from the house or anything related to conversion, but we are conducting raids to arrest the accused,” he added.
Meanwhile, two days ago, the Dindori Police registered an FIR against a Muslim groom and his parents under the new law for allegedly kidnapping a 16-year-old minor girl and forcing her for marriage in Nagpur.
ASP Vivek Lal reportedly told media, “Five people have been booked for kidnapping a minor and forcing her for marriage. The probe is on.”