Four people arrested in connection with the first case filed in Gujarat under the amended law against forced religious conversions through marriage were granted bail on Wednesday, reported PTI.
The case was registered in June against 26-year-old Samir Qureshi in Vadodara for allegedly using a fake Christian identity to speak to a woman on social media and forcing her to marry him.
The woman had also alleged in a police complaint that the man raped her multiple times and threatened to leak her private photos. The man’s parents, sister and uncle also allegedly helped him with the crime.
Eight people, including Qureshi’s parents, uncle, sister and cousin, were named in the First Information Report filed in the case.
Apart from the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill, 2021, the accused were also charged under sections of the Indian Penal Code that pertain to domestic violence, rape and criminal intimidation.
However, in July, a month after the FIR was filed, the woman claimed that she and Qureshi got married in a Muslim ceremony in February with the consent of both their families, Deccan Herald reported.
The woman and the accused persons then moved the Gujarat High Court, asking for the FIR to be quashed. The woman told the court that her complaint was based on a “trivial domestic matrimonial issue”, which had eventually been resolved, according to PTI.
She alleged that the police twisted the accusations, turning a domestic violence complaint into a case of forced religious conversion and rape, Deccan Herald reported.
“Certain religio-political groups intervened in the matter and communalised the said issue by bringing the angle of love-jihad,” the petition said. “Also, on account of overzealousness of the police officers involved, facts and offences which were never mentioned or alleged by the informant [the woman] came to be inserted in the FIR.”
“Love jihad” is the conspiracy theory espoused by right wing Hindu activists, alleging that Hindu women are forcibly converted by Muslims through marriage.
A total of seven people had been arrested in this case. Three had been given bail in September. Among those who remained in custody were Qureshi, the priest who solemnised the marriage, and two witnesses. These four arrested persons were allowed bail on Wednesday.
“For the accused persons who are still in jail, the court ordered them to be released on bail as an interim measure until the final adjudication of their quashing petition,” the woman’s lawyer Hitesh Gupta said, according PTI.