Shivpuri police have booked two Dalit youths for allegedly converting to Islam without seeking permission from the district authorities as mandated by the state’s anti-conversion legislation, but are unsure about the next course of action as the accused claim they have returned to Hinduism.
Maniram Jatav and Tularam Jatav, residents of Shivpuri district, were booked under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 1968, on Thursday, months after the matter came to light. Tularam had claimed he was not given the money promised to him for converting to Islam and accused Maniram of forcing him to convert.
A news report earlier this year accused rich Muslims in Khaniyadhana, a town whose several residents are based abroad, mostly in Muslim countries, of converting lower-caste youths by offering money.
This was followed by Hindu organisations petitioning the district authorities to stop the conversions.
Shivpuri SP Mahendra Sikarwar told The Indian Express that the FIR was registered against the duo after getting a go-ahead from the district collector but arrests, if any, will follow only if the offence was established.
The police had sought permission from the district collector to register an offence and while the application was pending, the two youths submitted affidavits that they had returned to Hinduism on their own.
The police have no idea where the conversions took place and who presided over the ceremony. The act mandates jail term for the converts and those presiding over the ceremony if it’s done without a written permission.
The duo had also acquired Muslim names. “The police had asked them to submit proof that they had converted to Islam with permission from the district collector but they could not and submitted affidavits saying they had returned to Hinduism. The FIR was registered because prima facie an offence was committed,’’ said a police officer.
Collector Rajeev Dubey said the permission to file the FIR was cleared by his predecessor and that he had no knowledge of the case.
In-charge of Khaniyadhana police station Yogendra Singh Jadaun said he was not sure if the act mandated arrest of the accused because he was yet to lay his hands on a copy of the legislation. He admitted that Hindu organisations had submitted memoranda in February this year.
A Shivpuri-based activist said the conversions appeared to have occurred in Lalitpur, a town in Uttar Pradesh not far from Khaniyadhana.