In less than 72 hours after the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act 2021 or ‘love jihad’ law came into force on June 15, the State police have registered the first case in Vadodara and arrested one person.
The Gotri Police in Vadodara nabbed one Samir Abdulbhai Qureshi, 25, for marrying a Hindu woman in 2019 by first introducing himself as a Christian and the 25-year-old woman came to know of his actual religion just a few days ahead of the wedding.
The woman filed a complaint against Qureshi, a resident of Tarsali in Vadodara, on Thursday. Gotri Police Inspector SV Chaudhary told The Free Press Journal that the woman had alleged that she was lured into a relationship through Instagram by Samir, who said that he was a Christian by the name Sam Martin.
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“She has complained that Qureshi had forced her into a physical relationship and had even shot the intimate moments in his cell phone. He was threatening her to make the pictures viral on social media if she did not marry him. They married in 2019," Chaudhary said. They married according to Muslim rituals and she discovered that he was not a Christian a few days ahead of the wedding when he took her to a relative.
Qureshi was arrested under Section 376, 377, 504, 506 (2) and clause 4 of the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021.
The new law, which came into force on June 15, was passed in the State Assembly on April 1 and received Governor Acharya Devvrat’s assent a month ago. This follows similar legislation in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
According to the new provisions in the original 2003 legislation, forcible conversion by marriage, or by getting a person married, or by aiding a person to get married, an accused shall attract punishment of 3-5 years and a fine up to Rs.2 lakh. The jail term is four to seven years and fine Rs 3 lakh if the woman victim is a minor and is from a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe.
The penalty will be three to 10 years in case an organization is found involved. The definition of "allurement" has been expanded to include “any person who offers a better lifestyle, divine blessings or otherwise." All offences under this law are cognizable and non-bailable. It says the new legislation attempts to nip in the bud the “emerging trend in which women are lured to marriage for the purpose of religious conversion”.