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18 arrested under anti-conversion law in UP’s Azamgarh

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AZAMGARH: A total of 18 persons have been arrested here under Uttar Pradesh’s anti-conversion law for allegedly offering money to convert people to Islam, a senior police officer said on Monday.

An Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate sent the accused to nine days of police remand on Monday.

The incident took place on May 21 when people attending a Qawwali event at Chirkihit village in the Devgaon area here were allegedly offered money and lured into converting to Islam, Superintendent Anurag Arya said.

The people were also being tricked into adopting Islam by highlighting the shortcomings of Hinduism, he added.

When the police raided the spot following a tip-off, a few accused fled the spot taking advantage of the commotion, Arya said.

The police managed to nab 18 persons, including the mastermind and two women, from the spot and seized seven tridents, photographs of two Muslim religious leaders, a harmonium, sound, a car and a tempo bike from their possession, the SP said.

Sikander, the mastermind of the conversion bid, was involved in occult practice. He is a native of Azamgarh but used to live at a ‘mazar’ in Bahraich district. This was Sikander’s first attempt at religious conversion, in which he failed, the police said.

During the investigation, it was found that the group of accused frequented the ‘mazars’ in the nearby Barabanki district, they added.

The police are keeping a close watch on the ‘mazars’ in Barabanki and Bahraich districts and trying to find out if there were similar cases of religious conversion at these places, the SP said.

Investigating agencies are questioning those arrested and a special team has been formed to investigate the matter, the police said.

The police said a case has been registered under the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, which penalises conversion made through misinformation, force, allurement or any other such deceitful means. (PTI)

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