Price for Converting to Islam – Mumbai Cops Allegedly Assault Man

Sunil Keni alias Mohammed Sadik was allegedly assaulted for converting to Islam by Malad police.

Published
India
5 min read


Sunil Keni alias Mohammed Sadik was allegedly threatened for converting to Islam by Malad police. (Photo: The Quint)

It was Republic Day this year. As the country was busy celebrating 67 years of its Constitution, the police in suburban Mumbai were allegedly torturing a 24-year-old man for executing one of his basic constitutional rights – the right to freedom of religion.

Sunil Keni alias Mohammed Sadik, converted to Islam willingly ten months ago. But when the Malad police found out, they allegedly picked him up from his residence, assaulted him with belts and batons, kicks and blows, and threatened to implicate him in a false terror case. They warned him that if he did not mend his ways, they would accuse him of being associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). His crime, they said, was Islam.

Assaulted by the Police for Being a Muslim

Sunil Keni alias Mohammed Sadik, 24, an imitation jewellery delivery boy residing in Malad, North Mumbai. (Photo Courtesy: Puja Changoiwala)
Sunil Keni alias Mohammed Sadik, 24, an imitation jewellery delivery boy residing in Malad, North Mumbai. (Photo Courtesy: Puja Changoiwala)
As soon as I was taken to the Malad police station, an officer and three constables locked me inside a room. At first, they abused me using offensive words, and then, they started beating me up. They made me kneel on the floor with a stick under my legs, and hit me on my back and chest with sticks and belts.
Sunil Keni alias Mohammed Sadik

“They made me do sit ups, kicked me, even assaulted me with fists and blows. And then, they called for sindoor (vermillion) from a local shop and made a tika on my forehead, the sign of a Hindu. They told me that I should shave my beard, cut my hair, and report at the police station every day with the tika on my forehead. If I did not obey them, they said that they would accuse me of being a terrorist with the ISIS, and slap a false case against me. They threatened me saying that if I were shown as a terrorist, they could shoot me with bullets or chop me into pieces and throw my remains away, and no one would ever found out,” said Sadik, who delivers imitation jewellery, and lives in north Mumbai’s Malad area.

I Wanted to Adopt Islam’s Noble, Humble Ways: Sadik

Wounds on Sadik’s back and legs following the alleged assault. (Photo Courtesy: Puja Changoiwala)
Wounds on Sadik’s back and legs following the alleged assault. (Photo Courtesy: Puja Changoiwala)

Recollecting the day it all started, Sadik said that it was his stepmother who caught him offering the evening namaz at home on 18 January, and informed his father. The father, a practicing Hindu, was furious and took Sadik to the local police station. The cops questioned the youth, even slapped him. Sadik tried to explain to them that he had chosen the religion out of his own volition​, and that his wasn’t a case of radicalisation. But the cops refused to understand. They warned him, but when he did renounce Islam, they picked him up on 26 January and allegedly tortured him.

I lost my mother when I was very young. After her, I would spend most of my time at my aunt’s place (father’s sister). She became a Muslim after marriage, and it was her household that drew me towards the religion’s pious teachings. I wanted to become a Muslim too; I wanted to adapt its noble, humble ways. I wasn’t becoming a terrorist, and yet, the cops threatened to make me one.
Sunil Keni alias Mohammed Sadik

Post Assault Trauma

After the assault, Sadik did not return home. He went to his friend’s place​, and told him about his tragedy. He showed him the wounds; there were several of them. The friend took Sadik to a local maulana, who, in turn, decided to help the youth. The maulana, with Sadik, submitted a letter to the zonal deputy commissioner of police with details of the torture, and also served a legal notice to the concerned police station. The DCP, says Sadik’s friend, promised inquiry and action against the policemen. However, the complaint has seen no progress yet. Sadik, meanwhile, is in the hospital, trying to recover from the physical wounds and mental trauma inflicted on him.



A copy of the letter submitted by Sadik to the zonal DCP. (Photo Courtesy: Puja Changoiwala)
A copy of the letter submitted by Sadik to the zonal DCP. (Photo Courtesy: Puja Changoiwala)

Two days ago, when Sadik was offering prayers at a mosque close to his friend’s home, he experienced a sudden pain in his chest. He told his friend to rush him home, and had two lemons to make himself feel better. He thought that the sinking feeling in his heart was acidity, but he didn’t realise it then that it was fear – a strong fear that was clutching at his heart, making him fold his limbs, and eventually stop breathing. His blood pressure and heart rate both plummeted substantially. Doctors at the hospital had to use electric shocks to revive him. But when requisite tests were conducted, doctors realised that his ailment was psychosomatic.

Mohammed Sadik at Trauma Care Municipal hospital, Jogeshwari (East) on Wednesday. (Photo Courtesy: Puja Changoiwala)
Mohammed Sadik at Trauma Care Municipal hospital, Jogeshwari (East) on Wednesday. (Photo Courtesy: Puja Changoiwala)

Mental Wounds Will Take His Life: Sadik’s Friend

“If you talk to him, you’ll know how scared he is,” says Hussain Taj, 35, Sadik’s friend.

The other day, we were at a local BMC office. Sadik saw the same policeman who had assaulted him, and he immediately clutched my sleeve, like a little child. ‘Bhai, wohi hai. Wohi hai, bhai,’ he kept saying. I tried to calm him, saying that he hadn’t done anything wrong, that he wasn’t a terrorist, that choosing Islam was his right. But he was too shaken to listen. Doctors say that there is something on his mind that is troubling him, which also caused that attack two days ago. But I do not know how to rid him of that trauma. The physical wounds have healed, but the mental ones, I’m scared, will take his life.
Hussain Taj. Sadik’s friend

But even while at the hospital, Sadik says that he is only worried about his family. The cops, he alleges, have been troubling his family after he submitted the letter to the DCP. “They keep calling my parents to the police station, madam. They’re pressuring my family to withdraw the allegations, harassing them. My family is not at fault. And I do not know why they don’t understand that I’m not at fault either,” said Sadik.

Shashank Sandbhor, senior inspector of Malad police station acknowledged that the DCP had accepted the complaint letter submitted by Sadik, and had ordered an inquiry.

Excerpts of the legal notice served by Sadik to the Malad police. (Photo Courtesy: Puja Changoiwala)
Excerpts of the legal notice served by Sadik to the Malad police. (Photo Courtesy: Puja Changoiwala)

He refuted allegations of torture saying, “The allegations are baseless. His parents had approached us with a complaint that he had converted to Islam. We told them that he was over 18 years of age, and it was his constitutional right to practice any religion of his choice. I cannot comment any further as the DCP’s inquiry is in progress.” Vikram Deshmane, DCP, Zone 11 was not available for comment despite repeated calls.

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