On 18 June, the Vadodara Police registered the first criminal case under Gujarat’s newly amended Freedom of Religion Act, or what is colloquially called anti-conversion law, reported The Indian Express.
After lodging the FIR, the police went to arrest a total of six persons which includes prime accused Samir Qureshi, his father Abdul Qureshi, mother Farida, and sister Rukshar as well as an uncle named Altaf Chauhan, and another accused named Maher Mallik.
Gujarat’s newly amended Freedom of Religion Act which came into force on 15 June imposes stricter punishment for aiding and abetting “fraudulent or forced religious conversion through marriage”.
What’s the Complaint?
A 24-year-old woman filed the complaint, alleging that she met a person in 2018 through a social networking site, where the accused used a fake identity and lured her into a relationship by promising her a “modern life” after marriage. Later, he raped her on four occasions at a hotel as well as in the flat of a co-accused, the police said.
The 26-year-old accused allegedly used intimate photos of the woman to blackmail her, asking her to marry him in a “nikah ceremony” and convert to Islam.
The Vadodara police swiftly acted upon the complaint, lodged the FIR, and went on to arrest Qureshi and his family after getting them tested for COVID19.
"“He blackmailed the victim that he would make public her nude pictures that he had filmed during the act and forced her to give in to his advances on multiple occasions. During that time, the victim discovered that she was about eight weeks pregnant and the accused forced her to consume abortion pills. The victim had a second pregnancy that was aborted at the clinic of a doctor at 21 weeks gestation, against the will of the victim.”" - Police FIR
The victim, who belongs to a Scheduled Caste, also alleged that the accused and his family hurled casteist abuses at her when she refused to follow Islam.
Offences Invoked Against Qureshi
Besides being booked under Section 4 of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill, 2021 for forcing conversion by luring and cheating into marriage, the accused were charged under IPC sections 498A for domestic violence, rape of a woman multiple times [376(2)(n)], unnatural sex (377), voluntarily causing a woman with a child to miscarry against her will (312, 313), intentional provoking to break public peace (504), criminal intimidation [506(2)], criminal conspiracy [120(b)], as well as various sections of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities ) Act,1989.
"“Recently, the man decided to marry another woman and began torturing the victim to leave him, she alleged. The accused repeatedly threatened to kill the family of the victim if she did not follow their orders regarding compliance with religious rituals of the man’s family.”" - A police inspector told Indian Express
(With inputs from Indian Express)
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