The Gujarat Police on Friday filed their first case under the amended law against forced religious conversion through marriage, PTI reported.
The case was filed against a 26-year-old man, Samir Qureshi, for allegedly using a fake Christian identity to speak to a woman on social media, raping her and forcing her to marry him, Jayrajsinh Vala, deputy commissioner of police of Vadodara city’s Zone 2, told the news agency.
The woman alleged in her complaint to the police that the man raped her multiple times and threatened to leak her private photos, according to The Indian Express. The police alleged the man’s parents, sister and uncle also helped him in the crime.
Apart from the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill, 2021, they were all also charged under sections of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to domestic violence, rape and criminal intimidation. The accused will be arrested after undergoing Covid-19 tests, the police said.
The FIR filed in connection with the case said the man also forced the complainant to have an abortion after she got pregnant.
The police alleged that the man took the woman to a religious place, forced her to marry him in a Muslim ceremony and convert to Islam, according to The Indian Express.
The Gujarat Assembly had in April passed the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill, 2021, to stop the “emerging trend in which women are lured to marriage for the purpose of religious conversion”, The Times of India had reported. The law provides for a punishment of three to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh.
Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, also ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, have also introduced ordinances that criminalise interfaith marriage under the fig leaf of “love jihad”. The Haryana government had also formed a three-member drafting committee in November to frame a law against forced religious conversion.
“Love jihad” is the conspiracy theory espoused by right wing Hindu activists, alleging that Hindu women are forcibly converted by Muslims through marriage.
The BJP-led central government had itself told the Lok Sabha in 2019 that no “case of ‘love jihad’ had been reported by any of the central agencies”. The National Commission for Women also does not maintain any data about “love jihad”.