In another case of forced conversion that has come to light from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, an 18-year-old Dalit girl has accused a Muslim man Mohammad Shahnawaz of holding her hostage for 25 days.
During the month-long hostage, Mohammad tortured and forced her to convert to Islam. He beat her up with belts and wire when she did not accept his demands. He also tried to burn her to death by throwing kerosene oil on her.
The incident came to light when the victim’s family approached the Kanpur police on January 24 and filed a complaint against Mohammad Shahnawaz. Subsequently, the police reached the hospital where the minor victim was admitted. The police has initiated an investigation into the matter.
According to reports, the victim girl has suffered severe burns on her face and upper body.
The accused has been booked under sections 326 and 323 of the Indian Penal Code and under relevant sections of the SC/ST Act.
The Uttar Pradesh Police has said, “The 18-year-old girl had gone to Lucknow in search of a job, where she became friends with one Shahnawaz. They stayed together for a few days. However, as per the girl, following a dispute Shahnawaz thrashed her and even tried to burn her by pouring kerosene oil on her. The girl was brought to Kanpur by her family members and admitted to a private nursing home in Juhi, from where she was shifted to Ursala hospital. Two teams of police have been dispatched to Lucknow to arrest the accused. The charge of conversion will be verified only after his arrest.”
कानपुर गुजैनी थाना क्षेत्र की रहने वाली एक किशोरी जो लखनऊ में एक पार्लर में काम करती थी, जिसके साथ बीते दिनों एक युवक द्वारा मारपीट और मिट्टी का तेल डालकर जलाने एवं कानपुर पुलिस कमिश्ररेट द्वारा की गई विधिक कार्यवाही के सम्बन्ध में एडीसीपी साउथ महोदया द्वारा दी गई बाइट। @Uppolice pic.twitter.com/ENgH4qNlC2
— POLICE COMMISSIONERATE KANPUR NAGAR (@kanpurnagarpol) January 25, 2023
The victim girl lived in a rented house in Ambedkar Nagar, Gujaini, Kanpur, with her grandmother after the death of her parents. She was working in a parlour in Yashoda Nagar, and three months back, one of her friends introduced her to Shahnawaz.
Last year, in December 2022, Mohammad Shahnawaz invited the victim to his house in Alambagh, Lucknow, under the pretext of getting her a job. When the victim reached Alambagh, Shahnawaz held her hostage and forced her to convert to Islam.
On January 3, 2023, the girl tried to escape, but Shahnawaz caught her; he then beat her up and threatened to kill her.
The people in the neighbourhood rushed to Shahnawaz’s house after hearing the victim’s scream. Seeing the crowd assimilate outside his house, Shahnawaz quickly doused the fire and took the girl to the district hospital. He also threatened her against informing her family about what had occurred.
The victim, however, called her aunt when Mohammad Shahnawaz was asleep and told her about the instance. She then urged her to come to the hospital where the accused had admitted her.
On getting the information, the victim’s family reached the Lucknow hospital and brought her to Kanpur, where she was admitted to a private nursing home in Juhi. The girl was later shifted to Ursala hospital in the city.
Earlier this year in Bhopal, a Muslim man named Faizal Syed lured a minor Dalit girl into his ‘love’ trap by posing as Shaan Pandit and sexually assaulted her multiple times. He also extorted money several times from the minor victim.
The accused also forced the minor to convert to Islam by threatening her with her private videos and photos.
The anti-conversion law, which went into effect in Uttar Pradesh on November 27, 2020, provides for up to 10 years in prison for anyone found guilty under the Illegal Conversion Act, depending on the gravity of the offence.
The conversion of minors and women from the SC/ST community is punishable by three to ten years in prison under the Act. Besides, there is also a provision for imprisonment of one to five years with a minimum fine of Rs 15,000 for forced conversion.