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Arrests in Bharuch Mass Conversions

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Bharuch Police has obtained arrest warrant from a district court against five of the main accused in the Bharuch mass conversion case. An arrest warrant under CrPC section 70 has been issued against Abdulsamad Mohammad alias Dawood Suleiman Patel (Bakerywala), Shabbir Mohammad Patel (Bakerywala), Hasan Isha Patel (Hasan Titli), Ismail Yakub alias Ismail Achhodwala (maulvi), all residents of Amod as well as Abdullah Aadam Fefdawala from Nabipur, Bharuch, who is currently residing in London, UK.

Subsequently, the police can now issue summons, look out circulars as well as take possession of property as per the provisions of the law against the accused. A case had been registered against the accused on November 15, 2021 in Amod Police station in Bharuch against nine accused on complaint of one Pravin Vasava where it was alleged that they had indulged in religious conversion of 37 tribal families to Islam by luring them with money, jobs and marriage amongst other things.

Subsequently, six people have been arrested in the case while four, residents of Bharuch have not been arrested. The fifth accused, Abdullah Fefdawala, originally the resident of Nabipur in Bharuch, but currently residing in London, UK, is also absconding. The arrest warrant issued against these five of accused which will now expedite the arrest procedure against them, said a source on condition of anonymity.

On issuance of the arrest warrant under section 70 of the CrPC, the police can take help of police from across the state as well as outside of state to arrest the accused. The police can also issue notices in newspapers in a bid to arrest them. Even after issuance of the arrest warrant if the accused are not arrested, they can be declared absconding by the police under section 82 of the CrPC. Under this, the police have the authority to even forfeit their properties.

Bharuch mass conversion case

On 15th November 2021, a case was registered at Amod Police Station Part A under Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act under section 4, 5, 4-G along with Indian Penal Code section 120 (B), 153 (B) (C), 506(2), 153A (1), 295 (K), 466, 467, 468, 471, Atrocities Act section 3 (2) (5-a), 3 (2)(5) and Information Technology Act, 2000 section 84-C against nine accused. The nine accused were: Shabbir Bakerywala (Amod), Samaj Bakerywala (Amod), Abdul Aziz Patel (Kankaria, Amod), Yusuf Patel (Kankaria, Amod), Ayub Barkat Patel (Kankaria, Amod), Hasan Tisli (Achhod, Amod), Fefdawala Haji Abdullah (Nabipur, currently, London, UK), Ismail Achhodwala alias Delawala (maulvi) (Achhod, Amod) and Ibrahim Patel (Kankaria, Amod).

As per the FIR filed, the accused had promised job and money to Hindu Vasava tribal families in the area and got them to convert to Islam in 2018. The complainant has accused them of a nationwide racket of religious conversion and alleged that they were given death threats if they complaint against the religious conversion. The accused had threatened that they are well connected from Kashmir to Pakistan, the FIR states.

As part of investigation, of the nine named in FIR, four have been arrested till now. These are, Abdul Aziz Patel, Yusuf Patel, Ayub Barkat Patel and Ibrahim Patel. Over and above these four, the police have also arrested six more people, Yakub Ibrahim Shankar, Rizwan Mehboob Patel, Thakorbhai Girdharbhai Vasava, Sajidbhai Ahmedbhai Patel, Yusuf Wali Hasan Patel and Ayub Basirbhai Patel.

According to police, the accused arrested collected Rs 14 lakh funds through donation from foreign countries. Of this, Rs 7 lakh were collected by Rizwan Patel from on Ismail in Bahrain. Bharuch Deputy Superintendent of Police M P Bhojani said that during the investigation it was revealed that Yakub Shanker and Rizwan Patel collected Rs 14 lakh which was used to construct one Ibadatgah (prayer house) as well as to distribute amongst those who convert to Islam. No permission from Bharuch District Collector was taken for such conversion activity.

Bhojani further added that Thakorbhai Girdharbhai Vasava played an important role in the various conversion activities of the tribal families into Islam. This amount was used for further religious conversion activities. Abdul Bashir Patel of Jambusar is a member of Mohammedi mosque in village and would take newly converted tribals there to teach them about Islam.

Sajid and Yusuf are members of Baitulmaal Trust in Achhod village and Salauddin Sheikh had given them donation of Rs 3.71 lakh. In October this year, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Vadodara city police found that city-based American Federation of Muslims Of Indian Origin (AFMI) had routed hawala funds for activities including construction of 400 flats for ‘displaced’ Bangladeshi and Rohingya Muslims near Ghaziabad. It was also accused of funding maulvis near the Indo-Nepal border.

Sheikh is one of the trustees of AFMI. Sheikh started the trust after getting influenced by Islamic preacher Zakir Naik in Mumbai a few years back. His name had also surfaced in the Uttar Pradesh mass conversion racket where Umar Gautam is one of the prime suspects.

Haji Fefdawala, one of the accused who is currently believed to be in London, UK, is accused of giving a provocative speech in Vadodara in 2019 and had invoked the 2002 Gujarat riots which took place in aftermath of burning down of a train in Godhra where karsevaks returning from Ayodhya were burnt alive. He had said that in 2003, he set up the trust in UK where he contacted about 125 donors and started sending donation money to India. Fefdawala had said that the money was collected to strengthen the community so it can ‘defend itself against attacks from other religions’. For an hour, Fefdawala continued to speak about ‘strengthening community’ in Gujarat.

The said event was also attended by Salahuddin Sheikh and Umar Gautam, who were recently arrested for their involvement in hawala and religious conversion. It is believed Fefdawala has routed ‘donations’ of over Rs 150 crore in past 18 years to India.

Courtesy – OPINDIA

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