A Muslim teenager from Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor was arrested and has been in jail for a week after a case was filed for ‘love jihad’ under the state’s new ‘anti-conversion’ law after he walked home from a birthday party with his former classmate, a Dalit girl.
The 16-year-old girl has repeatedly and vehemently denied the allegations of ‘love jihad’, and said the boy was a friend of hers. “I have told this to the magistrate, and I will say this again. Those men had a problem with me walking with my friend. They made videos of me and are now calling it love jihad. I did nothing wrong. I went of my own free will,” she told the Indian Express.
The boy was arrested on December 15 and was slapped with charges under sections of the SC/ST Act, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The FIR was registered purportedly based on a complaint by the girl’s father, which reportedly stated that the accused “induced the girl to elope with him” with the “intention to marry and convert her”.
The girl’s father has denied this complaint and alleged that police dictated the statement. “I trust my daughter completely. What wrong did she do? Is it unlawful for a boy and a girl to walk together now?” he asked while being interviewed by the Indian Express.
On the night of December 14, at around 10 pm, the two were walking home from a friend’s birthday party when they were allegedly chased by a group of right-wing Hindu men, beaten with sticks and questioned. On learning that the two belonging to two different religions, the group forced them to go to a police station, the newspaper reported.
The Muslim boy, who works as a welder’s apprentice in Dehradun, has been in custody for a week. The police say he is 18 years old, but his family says is 17. They have no documents to prove his age.
“The accused is in judicial custody. If he is minor, they will have to produce documents to show that. We have invoked appropriate sections in this case after questioning the girl and on the basis of her father’s complaint,” Arun Kumar, Station House Officer, Dhampur told the Indian Express.
The Bijnor police has also put out a tweet to justify using the unlawful conversions law in this case. “The case was filed based on a complaint by the father of the girl, her statement has been recorded before a magistrate. The accused has been arrested on the basis of other evidence too,” said the tweet.