In Ahmednagar’s Rahuri, a case of grooming and love jihad came to light. In this case, minor Hindu girls were lured, trapped and groomed to conversion by a tuition teacher Heena Sheikh and multiple Muslim boys. The Chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) visited the town and accused police of protecting the accused linked with the case.
As per the report published by Organiser on August 6, as many as three minor Hindu girls filed different complaints at the Rahuri police station in July 2023 against Heena Sheikh, Avej Sheikh and 6 others. The victims alleged that Avej trapped them separately in a love affair and forced them to run away with him. He asked them for money and also threatened them to be in a relationship. He touched the girls inappropriately and obtained their photographs which he used to blackmail the girls to be in a physical relationship.
Following their complaint the accused have been booked under sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offense (POCSO) Act, with other relevant charges. Even after having serious charges against the accused, the police was busy registering case against Hindu activists who protested against the administration with the victim’s family for the police inaction.
The NCPCRs visit
On August 6, the Chairperson of the NCPCR, Priyank Kanoongo visited Rahuri with members of the State Child Commission. After meeting the victims and concerned authorities, Kanoongo made serious allegations against the administration. He called the Rahuri grooming and love jihad case, ‘A serious case of Human Trafficking’.
Kanoongo told the media, “Our primary investigation reveals that there are many loopholes in the police investigation. The investigating officers, even the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Ahmednagar police don’t know who the special juvenile police officer is. Police have not investigated the phones of the accused, they have not traced any information from the Instagram app that was used to trap the girls by the accused. The police have not even attained information about Heena Pathan who lured the girls as if she was operating some kind of racket,” he added.
NCPCR also observed that coaching centre owner lady fed the girls with suspicious drugs, facilitated physical relations with boys n encouraged SM liaison in many cities; despite that SP @NagarPolice failed to obtain Instagram data, victims badly coerced to help accused + pic.twitter.com/NxzBNteYqZ
— Legal Rights Observatory- LRO (@LegalLro) August 6, 2023
Citing the rising number of cases of love jihad in Maharashtra, the NCPCR chief reiterated the need for an Anti-conversion law in the state. He also added that this is an organised crime where the teacher knew the accused men beforehand and was helping them in trapping innocent girls.
“The state needs to implement an anti-conversion law. Such incidents happen in the absence of stringent laws. The Police are focusing on the cross-case. The complaints of the girls were not heard initially. FIRs were filed 7-8 hours late. Why were the police waiting? Why were the girls not heard?”, Kanoongo stated.
The Grooming and love jihad case
On July 27, consecutive cases of forced religious conversions on the pre-text of marriages by Islamists and grooming by co-religionists came to light from the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. The First case in the list had a usual ‘Love Jihad’ FIR where a victim girl alleged that the accused lured her into a fake love trap and later forced her to convert. But other cases showed that multiple persons have been involved in the grooming, including tuition teachers and others. It has been alleged that the teacher used her coaching as a place for grooming and providing Muslim boys a place to trap Hindu girls.
Organiser accessed as many as three FIRs and in all of them, the victim girls accused that their teacher Heena allowed Muslim boys to come to their coaching and asked them to be friends with them. Later, they got connected via social media and trapped them in a fake love web. The victims claimed that they were asked to wear burqa and follow Islamic rituals, the end goal was to get the minors converted to Islam.
As per the First Information Report (number–822/2023) registered at the Rahuri police station of the Ahmednagar district on July 28, the accused persons have been identified as Avej Nisar Sheikh, Kaif Sheikh, Sohail Sheikh, Heena Sheikh (tuition teacher), Alisha Sheikh, Salim Pathan, Altaf Sheikh, and Shakir Sayyed.
They were all booked under IPC sections 354 (assault), 354D (sextortion), 109 (offering bribe), 34 (act done by several people with common intention), with other sections 8 and 12 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offense (POCSO) Act.
Two other FIRs registered against him are FIR (number-823/2023, on July 29 at Rahuri police station) and the other FIR (number-818/2023 at Rahuri police station on July 27).
Muslim side registered counter FIR
One of the accused Salim Pathan registered a counter FIR on Hindu activists claiming that they barged into the Mosque and created a ruckus. He did not stop here as he added, the Hindus well equipped with rods and sticks damaged the Mosque structure. Alleging this, Pathan filed an FIR against as many as 25 Hindus.
A First Information Report (number–817/2023) was registered in this case against 25 Hindus under sections 295 (damaging place of worship), 295A (outraging religious feelings), 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with a deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly damaging an object), 427 (mischief causing damage), 504 (intentionally insulting), 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC and other sections of the Bombay Police Act.
Hindus granted bail in lack of evidence
As per a ground report by OpIndia, out of 25 detained Hindus, 13 were granted bail. The report said they alleged that they have been ill-treated in police custody. One of the released Hindu activists said they have been intentionally targeted for helping Hindu victims and highlighting cases of Love Jihad.
He said, “We were not present at the time when the probable ruckus happened in the Masjid area. We are not denying that some ruckus might have happened around the Masjid that day but none of the arrested Hindu members were present at the spot when the incident happened”.
Villagers stopped sending daughters to school
Following the incident, the Umbre Gram Panchayat Karyalaya issued a notice stating that fearing the local Muslim men they will stop sending their daughters to school. A copy of the notice was made available on social media, it read, “We won’t send our girls to school from now onwards. All the parents in the village have decided that no girl will go to school unless the administration assures the security of our children. We all are terrified by the incident and are concerned about the safety and security of our girls. Our girls will do domestic chores instead and survive for their life if this is what they have to face at the places of education,” the letter read.
“The Police should take back the false cases lodged against Hindus who came forward to help the victim girls and their families. The Hindus were also brutally beaten by the police and the parents of the victim girls were also harassed,” the letter indicated demanding strict action against the police officer who booked Hindus and assaulted them based on the alleged false accusations imposed by the accused Muslims.
Readers can go through the report published earlier to get the FIR and other details here.