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‘Man beaten for traveling with a Hindu woman’: Detained under anti conversion law

On Monday, a Muslim man, 26, was arrested under the state’s anti-conversion law after being assaulted 10 days earlier for traveling on a train with a Hindu woman in Ujjain. Asif Sheikh, a resident of Indore, was arrested for extortion and for allegedly forcing the 25-year-old woman from Mhow to marry him, said Arun Solanki, a local police officer. Sheikh was booked after the woman filed a complaint. According to the complaint, the woman said Sheikh, a friend of her husband, came to her house frequently and took ‘objectionable photos’ of her. Sheikh allegedly threatened her with defamation and blackmailed her for money.

Recently, Solanki says he started pressuring her to convert so he could marry her. According to her, she was under pressure and following instructions from him. In her words, the accused was ‘forcibly taking her to Ajmer’ when some people stopped them. She said she did not file a complaint out of fear . Attempts were being made to arrest the accused who was dragged out of the train and thrashed at the Ujjain railway station on January 14 for allegedly misguiding the woman who is married and a mother of a child. The man and woman are family friends, said government railway police superintendent (Ujjain) Nivedita Gupta.

A BJP-ruled state, Madhya Pradesh, has criminalized what they consider forced religious conversion, including through interfaith marriage. Lawmakers are being accused of misusing the laws to target Muslims and to kidnap women so that they cannot choose who they wish to marry.

Interfaith couples have been targeted by vigilante groups, and anticonversion laws were passed following a campaign against ‘love jihad’, the term used by Hindu groups to describe relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women. The groups believe that ‘love jihad’ is an organised plot to entice Hindu women into marriage.


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