A Maulvi from Surat district who fears arrest in connection with the forced religious conversion case of tribal people in Amod town, Bharuch district, was denied anticipatory bail on Monday by the Gujarat high court.
Maulvi Abdul Vahab Varyava (36) of Palsana in Surat district had petitioned the high court after a lower court denied him anticipatory relief. Charged with violating the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, the Atrocities Act, criminal conspiracy, and inciting discord, he was looking for anticipatory bail in the matter.
Varyava stated in his appeal that there was no particular complaint against him, but that during the inquiry, presumptions were made against him and other religious leaders and intellectuals.
The case was filed by a person named Pravin Vasava, alleging that he was converted to Islam in 2018 by many accused and given the new name Salman Vasant Patel.
During the inquiry following Vasava’s accusation, officers discovered that 37 indigenous families had been converted. The FIR was filed against nine people who reportedly raised funds for the cause and allegedly used money and gifted houses to entice tribal people to convert to Islam.
Mass religious conversion in Bharuch
Recently, mass religious conversions to Islam were recorded in Bharuch, Gujarat, where various tribal groups were forcibly converted.
As OpIndia reported in November 2021, an FIR was filed against Fefdawala Haji Abdullah, Salahuddin Sheikh, and others based on a complaint filed by Pravin Vasava of Kankariya village in Amod Taluka of Bharuch district in Gujarat. Vasava alleged that the religious conversion of people from the Vasava community (Scheduled Tribe) to Islam was carried out by luring them with financial gains such as a job and a house. The FIR described how funds from other countries were moved to India to help with the aforementioned religious conversion efforts.
The forcible conversions in Bharuch were also linked to the Uttar Pradesh mass religious conversion racket, which was uncovered in June-July 2021, with Salahuddin Sheikh and Umar Gautam as main suspects. Fefdawala and others allegedly funneled funds via Sheikh’s NGO AFMI, which was then used for anti-social operations. In December 2021, the NGO’s FCRA registration was revoked by the Home Ministry.
OpIndia also did on-the-ground reporting on the problem of religious conversions in Bharuch, which can be read here.