An Uttar Pradesh court on Saturday sentenced a 26-year-old man to five years in prison under its anti-conversion law, The Indian Express reported. This is the first conviction under the law in the state.

The man, identified as Afzal, was booked under the law in April last year. He was accused of kidnapping a 16-year-old girl in the Amroha district to “change her religion”. She was later found in New Delhi.

The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act prohibits “unlawful conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage and for the matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”. It was passed by the Uttar Pradesh Assembly in 2021.

The law made religious conversion a non-bailable offence, inviting penalties up to 10 years in prison if found to be guilty of using marriage to force someone to change religion.

The new law on forced conversions was part of a promise by Chief Minister Adityanath to tackle “love jihad” – a conspiracy theory espoused by right-wing Hindu activists, alleging that Hindu women are forcibly converted by Muslims through marriage.

On Saturday, Special Counsel Basant Singh Saini said that Afzal had introduced himself to the girl as ‘Arman Kohli’.

“His real identity came to light later,” he said, according to The Indian Express. “A total of seven prosecution witnesses were examined in court.”

Additional Director General Ashutosh Pandey said that Afzal was out on bail but was taken into custody after the court order.

The girl’s father had told the police that his daughter was in regular touch with Afzal, who used to visit his nursery to purchase plants. The police had initially filed a case of kidnapping but later invoked charges under the anti-conversion law on the father’s complaint.