Over the years, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) created a culture of devising’ social engineering’ to win elections in Uttar Pradesh rather than contesting the polls on the development agenda. For SP, the formula was MY combination (Summation of Muslim-Yadav vote bank), and for BSP, the formula was Meem-Bheem (Summation Muslim and Dalit vote banks). 18-20 per cent Muslim vote bank was at the crux of both of these electoral formulas. Impunity for this vote bank became the underlying theme for both SP and BSP Governments. And so, rampant illegal conversions thrived and got institutionalised in Uttar Pradesh before Yogi Adityanath took charge of Uttar Pradesh in 2017. In the last 4.5 years, Yogi Adityanath dismantled these conversion rackets strategically.
One of the social evils that Yogi Adityanath has observed in Uttar Pradesh over the years as a Member of Parliament is Love Jihad—the forcible and deceitful conversion of Hindu girls to Islam, under the garb of love. Recently, the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) has talked about thousands of Christian girls being converted through Love Jihad by young Muslim men. VS Achuthanandan of CPI(M) and Oommen Chandy of Congress party have also expressed the horrors of Love Jihad in their state of Kerala. They both have been the Chief Ministers of Kerala. Cases of love-jihad were widely reported by the Sikh community in the UK and Canada. The temptation of consolidating their minority vote bank stopped previous regimes in UP to legislate against the phenomenon of Love Jihad. The Yogi Government took this topic head-on. First through an ordinance and then through an Act. Yogi Government brought Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion. The UP Government’s law prohibits any religious conversion by use of misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, coercion, allurement or marriage. The act has a strong provision to nullify a marriage solemnised with the ‘sole purpose’ of ‘unlawfully converting’ the bride or the groom to a different faith from their original faith. It’s ironical—India must be the only nation where anti-conversion laws have to be brought to protect the majority in the face of rampant conversions by the minority.
Many Love Jihad cases started surfacing with the advent of the ordinance and later the law against it in 2020-21. In Etah, Azamgarh, the Lok Sabha constituency of Akhilesh Yadav, the police arrested 17 people on the charge of forcible conversion of a 21-year-old girl and then getting her married. In Muzaffarnagar, the UP Police booked Nadeem and Usman for forcibly converting a Sikh girl under Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion. UP Police in Jaunpur district found that Salim converted and married a 15-year old minor girl after pretending to help her in treatment. UP Police booked him and others involved under POCSO and anti-conversion law. In Lucknow, UP Police arrested Arif Hashmi, a timber businessman who posed as Aditya to befriend the victim, daughter of an ex-IAS officer—then raped, assaulted and pressurised her to convert into Islam. In Azamgarh, police booked Abid, the father of seven children, who posed as Inspector Aditya, blackmailed and married a Hindu woman and forcefully converted her to Islam. Aditya seems to be a popular Hindu name among these imposters. In Maharajganj district, police arrested Shahenshah Khan, who posed as a brahmin to marry a Hindu woman, later assaults her when his identity is revealed. In Agra, the UP Police booked Asim Qureshi, who became Vicky Yadav, to lure a minor Hindu girl who married and impregnated after coercive conversion. This law has become a boon for all such victims. Based on its success in UP, other states like Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka are also proposing similar laws to curb the menace of Love-Jihad in their states.
In mid-2021, UP Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) busted a heinous conversion racket with terror links. UP ATS arrested two men identified as Umar Gautam and Mufti Qazi Jehangir involved in illegal religious conversions of women and physically challenged children. Police got the details that the conversion racket was being funded by Pakistan’s spy agency ISI. The two accused, who ran an organisation named Islamic Dawah Centre (IDC), along with their other associates, were charged for mass conversion of people into Islam through inducements such as marriage, job, money and mental pressure. One of the accused Umar Gautam, a convert himself, revealed that they converted around 250-300 people every year. During the interrogation, Umar also informed that they targeted people from the economically weaker society, including women, children, and the disabled. They were also getting the women married so that they did not return to their original faith. The Anti-Terror Squad found that Gautam had allegedly converted over 1,000 people to Islam and got many of them married to Muslims to prevent the possibility of their relapse to their earlier faith. The two and their organisation were booked under Sections 420, 120 B, 153A, 153B, 295 and 511 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 3/5 the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance-2020. It’s very unfortunate and shocking that Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) felicitated the same Mohammad Umar Gautam in 2018 with an award for propagating Islam. The memento awarded to Gautam read—“In recognition of his ongoing extraordinary contribution and continued work in spreading Islam with full devotion and steadfastness”.
In mid-2021, UP Anti-Terrorism Squad busted a heinous conversion racket with terror links. UP ATS arrested two men identified as Umar Gautam and Mufti Qazi Jehangir involved in illegal religious conversions of women and physically challenged children. Police got the details that the conversion racket was being funded by Pakistan’s spy agency ISI. The two accused, who ran an organisation named Islamic Dawah Centre
Later UP ATS also arrested known Muslim scholar, Maulana Kaleem Siddiqui in the same case, who confessed that he was furthering the cause of the Ummah as his duty and whenever he converted someone (to Islam), he informed his associated abroad who paid the converts a lot of money to remain within the Islamic fold and convert others. Maulana also agreed that he, too, benefitted a lot financially from it.
What topped it all—Yogi Adityanath Government started an SIT probe on one of its IAS officers— Mohammad Iftikharuddin, who is accused of running Islamist propaganda, encouraging conversions and using official residence to spread Islam. On camera, the IAS officer is heard saying that everyone should convert to Islam and the rule of Allah should be established all over the world, in every household. After the Yogi Government’s action, now people are getting the courage and coming out to narrate different incidents where Iftikharuddin tried to use his government position to lure or threaten people to convert to Islam. Like Nirmal Kumar Tyagi came out and told reporters that in October 2016, when Mohammad Iftikharuddin was the divisional commissioner in Kanpur, a convoy reached Kalyanpur and residents of the settlement were threatened that their houses would be demolished if they don’t convert to Islam.
Apart from bringing prosperity, investment, peace, better law on order, better electricity supply and better welfare scheme for the poor in Uttarpradesh, Yogi Adityanath has systematically derailed the institutionalised conversions shops in UP, thriving during SP and BSP rule.