Muslim Scholar Accused In Anti Conversion Law, Incarcerated for Over 180 Days, Mufti Jahangir Alam Qasmi Awaits Justice

Mufti Qazi Jahangir Alam Qasmi (52) and Molana Mohammad Umar Gautam (57) from New Delhi were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police’s Anti-Terror Squad (ATS), in June 2021, on the charges of mass conversion of people into Islam through inducements such as marriage, job and money and mental pressure.

The two, and the organisation run by Molana Umar Gautam, Islamic Dawah Centre India, were booked under Sections 420, 120 B, 153A, 153B, 295 and 511 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3/5 the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance-2020.

The Story so Far

In the last six months, the ATS has arrested 16 people in the case, including famous Muslim cleric Maulana Kaleem Siddiqui, who runs the Jamia Imam Waliullah trust in Phulat, Muzaffarnagar, among several other trusts and NGOs, and Umar Gautam, chairman of the Delhi-based Islamic Dawah Centre (IDC).

According to the ATS, these men lured and manipulated the vulnerable and needy, including women and individuals with speech and hearing impairments, to embrace Islam, by offering them monetary benefits and jobs.

The men did this to make India an “Islamic state”, the ATS alleges.

The ATS claims to have a list of 1,000 people who were “forcefully converted” by Umar Gautam.

In the last four months, police have filed two charge sheets against 10 of those arrested — Gautam, Qazi Jahangir, Salahuddin Zainuddin Sheikh, Irfan Sheikh, Rahul Bhola, Mannu Yadav, Prasad Rameshwar Kaware alias Adam, Kausar Alam, Bhuriya Bando alias Arslan, and Faraz Shah — for alleged cheating, criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity, among other sections. They have also been booked under UP’s new Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act.

Seven out of the 10 arrested by police, including Gautam, are those who converted to Islam. 

Additionally, eight accused — Gautam, Jahangir, Salahuddin, Irfan, Faraz Shah, Prasad RameshwarKaware, Bhupriya Bando and KausarAlam — have been booked for “waging war against the country” by trying to make India an “Islamic State”.

Allegations Against Mufti Jahangir AlamQasmi

Umar Gautam, who had converted to Islam from Hindu faith, had allegedly converted 1,000 persons in U.P. and got many of them married to Muslims, said the ATS in a statement.

He was into the mass conversion of non-Muslims, especially deaf and mute students, women, children and those from weaker and vulnerable sections, claimed the police.

Umar Gautam and his associates used Islamic Dawah Centre India to carry out the mass conversion and also received foreign funding, including from the ISI, for the conversion, alleged the police.

Mufti Qasmi, the second accused, illegally issued conversion certificates and marriage certificates for those converted, the police said.

The police also accused them of creating hatred towards their original religion in the minds of the converted persons.

It is noteworthy that Umar Gautam embraced Islam in 1984 and he has been involved in a mission to provide proper information about Islam. But not a single person has claimed that he forced anyone to accept Islam in 35 years of his life as a Muslim. Police have failed to produce a single witness that supports police allegations. 

Case Moved To Allahabad High Court

Advocate Zia Ul QayyumJilani, the main counsel in Jahangir’s case has moved to the Allahabad High Court urging the court to take cognizance of the alleged “religious conversion case” and quash the impugned charge sheet filed against Islamic preacher Mufti Qazi Jahangir Alam Qasmi. The case is based on frivolous and over-exaggerated allegations and claims of UP Anti-Terrorism Squad said, Adv Zia.

Referring to the arrests not an act in isolation but a part of systematic efforts of the Uttar Pradesh government and its agencies towards curtailing the fundamental right to change religion or belief, the petition has been filed in the Hon’ble High Court seeking to quash the charge sheets pending in the court of special judge NIA/Additional District Judge III, Lucknow under sections section 120-B, 153-A, 153-B, 295-A, 417, 298, 121-A, 123 IPC and 3/5/8 U.P. Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021, however, the opposite party submits that the petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. has been filed at the premature stage inasmuch as the Magistrate has not taken cognizance on the charge sheet by now. Therefore, he prays for and is granted ten days’ time to file an objection/ short counter affidavit on the point of maintainability.

However, Adv I.B. Singh learned Senior Advocate, arguing in the matter, says that though the Magistrate has not taken cognizance but has registered the case as a miscellaneous case for want of sanction, therefore, this petition is very well maintainable.

The counsel in the case of Mufti Jahangir Alam Qasmi illustrates that there are a total of seventeen persons who have been arrested and has been made accused in the instant case wherein different roles have been assigned to different alleged accused persons. The entire F.I.R. is a false, frivolous and vexatious got up story prepared with an orchestrated and well hatched concerted design to malign and destabilize the clean and impeccable image of Jahangir thereby making him a scapegoat to satisfy oblique motives. 

The application further elaborates that on 19.06.2021, some police officials came to Jahangir Qasmi where he was questioned and was asked to join the interrogation in the aforementioned case, believing upon the words of the I.O. (Investigating Officer) and to fully co-operate in the course of the investigation, Qasmi went to the concerned police station where he was illegally detained on 19.06.2021 and subsequently taken to Lucknow without any information provided to his family and was arrested in the instant Case FIR No. 09/2021 and remanded to judicial custody on 20.06.2021. It is further stated that during this period of interrogation the Jahangir was placed under immense coercion and forced to sign multiple blank pages by the ATS officials.

Furthermore, the plea argues that not a single complaint or F.I.R. has been filed by any victim/aggrieved person or person related to him by blood against Jahangir or the organisation in which he works related to unlawful conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, coercion or allurement and the same is evidently clear from the facts on record. And from the bare perusal of the F.I.R, it is evidently clear that neither any family member of any deaf and dumb nor any other person has complained about unlawful and forceful conversion of religion nor they have converted voluntarily after going through all the legal formalities.

It was alleged that the accused Mufti Jahangir Alam Qasmi prepared documents and marriage certificates of the people newly converted to Islam. Criticizing the allegations as fake the counsel has mentioned several statements on record which suggest that no person was actually pressurized to change his/her dominion or faith. 

A statement mentioned of witness Shrishti Tiwari Alias Zainab who after the death of his father in a road accident, started thinking about ‘life after death’ wherein she started studying the books of all the religions in furtherance of which she decided to convert into Islam and published the same in the form of a notification on 28.12.2018. It is further stated that she met Mufti Jahangir only with the intention to make her legal documentation as the entire decision of conversion was already taken by her without any illegal means or activities and taking into confidence her family members.

In another fact of investigation in the case of Mufti Jahangir Alam, the statement of a witness namely Anshuman Tiwari was recorded by the I.O. in which he had specifically stated that nothing in relation to allurement, force, fraud, undue influence has ever come across by Jahangir in any manner and the entire act of preparing marriage certificate was done voluntarily upon the consent, free will and permission of the witness himself. 

The counsel argues that an alleged joint recovery memo was prepared by the investigating officer in whom few marriage certificates have been recovered from the allegedly accused Mufti Jahangir Alam Qasmi. And not a single aforementioned person has been examined by the investigating officer to ascertain as to how and under what circumstances these marriage certificates were prepared by Mufti Jahangir which itself a foul play that has been played by the investigating agency to satisfy their oblique motives.

No offence under sections 3 and 5 of the U.P. Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021 is made out against Jahangir as there is not a single essential ingredient on record to state that he has converted or attempted to convert any person on the basis of misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, coercion or allurement and the same has been slapped in an arbitrary manner without any proper application of mind. 

The entire evidence collected and statements recorded by the Investigating Officer as well as statements recorded under section 164 of CrPc does not apply to Jahangir Qasmi in light of the U.P. Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021 as the act came into force on 27th of November, 2020 while all the incidents averred and alleged against Mufti Jahangir and other accused persons are inconsistent and in derogation with the Principal of Ex Post Facto Law. The objective of the whole case seems nothing but a gambit to gain mischievous political gains and form the base of the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

“Mufti Jahangir Alam Qasmi belongs to hard-working lower medium strata of society and is the only earning member of his family which has five children, wife and ailing parents, the entire livelihood of the family is dependent on him. He has no criminal history. He is innocent and has not committed any such offence as is alleged against him and is being made a scapegoat satisfy oblique motives and mischievous political gains”, Zia.

On the hearing on January 5, 2022, the matter listed before the Hon’ble High Court Justice Rajesh Singh Chauhan, couldn’t proceed as the State delays filing the objections on the petition filed by the counsel, thereby directed to file within one week. 

On the latest hearing on January 13 2022, the hearing was adjourned as the prosecution of ATS tested positive for covid so the reply of ATS was not available in court. The matter adjourned to be heard on January 17 and 18’2022.

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