MP: Man beaten for travelling with Hindu woman booked under anti-conversion law
BHOPAL: A 26-year-old Muslim man was on Monday booked under Madhya Pradesh’s anti-conversation law 10 days after he was assaulted for travelling on a train with a Hindu woman in Ujjain.
Arun Solanki, a local police officer, said the case was registered against Asif Sheikh, a resident of Indore, for extortion and allegedly forcing the 25-year-old woman from Mhow to marry him. He said Sheikh was booked on the woman’s complaint.
In her complaint, the woman said Sheikh, a friend of her husband, would come to her house frequently, and a few months ago, clicked her “objectionable photos”. She alleged Sheikh threatened to defame her and was blackmailing her for money. Solanki said recently he allegedly started pressuring her for conversion for marriage.
The woman claimed she was under pressure and was following what he was instructed her to do. She added the accused was “forcefully taking her to Ajmer” when some people stopped them. The woman said she got scared and did not file any complaint at Ujjain.
Police said they were trying to arrest the accused, who was on January 14 dragged out of the train and thrashed at the Ujjain railway station for allegedly misguiding the woman, who is married and a mother of a child.
Government railway police superintendent (Ujjain) Nivedita Gupta earlier said the man and woman were family friends. “The woman’s mother has confirmed the same. We allowed them to go.”
Madhya Pradesh is among the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states, which have criminalised what they call forced religious conversion, including through interfaith marriages. Critics of the legislation say they are being misused to target Muslims and tend to infantilise women to prevent them from choosing who they wish to marry.
Vigilante groups have targeted interfaith couples and the anti-conversion laws were passed after a campaign against “love jihad”, the term Hindu groups use to describe relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women. The groups believe “love jihad” is an organised conspiracy of Muslim men to trick Hindu women into marriage.