On Monday (April 4), the Gujarat High Court dismissed the anticipatory bail petition of one Islamic preacher named Varyava Abdul Vahab Mahmood for converting 37 Hindu families and 100 Hindus to Islam in exchange for financial assistance, reported LawBeat.
Mahmood was allegedly facilitated in his nefarious conversion agenda by 5 other accused, namely, Shabbirbhai, Samadbhai, Abdul Aziz, Yusuf and Aiyub. He had sought anticipatory bail in connection to a First Information Report (FIR) registered against him on November 15 last year at Aamod Police Station in Bharuch city of Gujarat.
The matter came up for hearing before Justice BN Karia. He observed, “Prima facie from the record produced by the prosecution, it appears that the present appellant has attempted to convert directly or otherwise, any person from one religion to another by use of force or by allurement or by any fraudulent means nor any person abet such conversion.”
“Considering the material placed on record before this Court… this Court is not inclined to accept the prayer to release the appellant on anticipatory bail, as prayed for. Hence, this appeal deserves to be dismissed and accordingly, the same is dismissed,” Justice BN Karia ordered.
The Background of the Case
On November 15, 2021, a man named Pravinbhai Vasantbhai Vasava (converted to Salman Vasant Patel) filed a complaint with the Aamod police in Bharuch city against two people, namely, Shabbirbhai Bakerywala and Samadbhai Bakerywala.
He had accused the duo of converting him to Islam in 2018 and forcibly changing his name on the Aadhar card. Pravinbhai pointed out that the duo also converted another man named Ajitbhai Vasava to Islam by providing him financial assistance about 15 years ago. On conversion, Ajitbhai adopted the name ‘Abdul Aziz Patel.’
The trio then converted two others, namely, Mahendra Vasava (who became Yusuf) and Raman Vasava (who became Aiyub) in exchange for money. A First Information Report (FIR) was registered against them under the Indian Penal Code Sections 120B, 153(B)(1)(c), 506(2) and Section 4 of Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003.
As per the FIR, the accused converted a total of 37 Hindu families and 100 Hindus by providing them monetary support. They also converted a house, built with government funds, into an Ibadatgaah (Islamic place of worship).
When Pravinbhai expressed his desire to re-convert to Hinduism, he was threatened with dire consequences on October 26 last year. Forced by circumstances and an immediate sense of danger, he had filed a case against the accused.
“Subsequently, the Investigating Officer filed a report seeking to add Sections 466, 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC and Section 3(2)(5-A) of the Atrocities Act…Subsequently, on 16.12.2021, the offences under Section 4A of the Freedom of Religion Act and 84C of the Information Technology Act, 2002 are added in the FIR,” the court order had noted.
The Investigating Officer filed his affidavit dated 24.12.2021, inter alia, declaring that the appellant had facilitated financial assistance to the convertees and given religious sermons/takrirs demeaning Hindu religion,” it further added.
Accused Yusuf, Aiyub and others also created a Whatsapp group where they spewed vitriolic content against the Hindu community through videos, speeches, and chats.
Witnesses testified that Islamic preacher Varyava Abdul Vahab Mahmood, who had filed the appeal before the Gujarat High Court, had tried to lure people to Islam by gifting them air coolers, water coolers, lories, chatai (carpet) to perform Namaz, dresses, medicines, ration and cash.
On December 28 last year, a Special court had rejected the anticipatory bail application of Mahmood, following which he moved the High Court seeking relief. However, his petition was dismissed by the High Court based on prima-facie details of the case.