In a first, a court in Amroha, Uttar Pradesh, awarded five years imprisonment to a 26-year-old man under the state’s anti-conversion law for allegedly abducting a 16-year-old girl from another community in April last year.
The girl was later traced on the basis of information revealed by the man, Afzal, after his arrest. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 40,000 on Afzal, who is a driver by profession.
This is the first conviction in the state under the anti-conversion law, Additional Director General, Prosecution, Ashutosh Pandey, told The Indian Express.
Afzal, who hails from Sambhal and was out on bail, was taken into custody on Friday, 16 September, after the court held him guilty.
Accused Had Introduced Himself as Arman Kohli
Afzal had introduced himself to the girl as ‘Arman Kohli.’ His real identity came to light later, Hindustan Times quoted special counsel, Amroha, Basant Singh Saini, as saying.
On 2 April 2021, Afzal allegedly tried to convince the girl to elope with him so that they could get married. When the girl failed to return home, her father lodged a police complaint the same day.
Afzal then, reportedly, took the girl to Usmanpur area in New Delhi where he revealed his real identity. He then forced the girl to convert her religion, according to Hindustan Times.
However, before the girl could be forced to marry, a police team from Amroha reached the place after tracking Afzal’s location through his mobile phone. The girl was rescued within two days of the complaint.
During the trial, the girl testified against Afzal. The WhatsApp chats between the duo were also presented before the court as evidence against the accused.
In February 2021, the Uttar Pradesh government passed the Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Act 2021.
It prescribes a jail term from one to five years, in addition to a fine.
The jail term also extends up to 10 years and a fine up to Rs 25,000 for conversions of women belonging to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe communities, or who are minors.
(With inputs from The Indian Express and Hindustan Times.)