In the first case of conviction under the anti-conversion law of Uttar Pradesh, a district court in Amroha sentenced a 26-year-old man named Afzal on Saturday to 5 years imprisonment for the abduction of a 16-year-old girl.
Afzal had introduced himself as Arman Kohli to the victim girl, and that’s why he was booked under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021, which came into force last year. The development was confirmed by Ashutosh Pandey, the Additional Director General (Prosecution) of the Police.
Besides the jail sentence, a fine of ₹40000 has been imposed on the accused. The matter was heard by Kapila Raghav, the Additional District Judge (POCSO court) in Amroha, and a total of 7 witnesses were examined in court.
A carpenter by occupation, Afzal was taken into custody immediately after the court verdict. He hails from the Sambhal district of Uttar Pradesh. Apart from the relevant sections of the anti-conversion law, Afzal was also booked under IPC sections 363 (punishment for kidnapping) and 366 (kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage.
The Background of the Case
On April 2, 2021, the father of the minor girl approached the police and informed them that the victim did not return home for 2 days. Citing two local residents, he informed that his daughter was last seen with a man.
The father also told the police that the underage victim was in touch with a man named Afzal, who frequented his nursey to buy new plants. On the basis of his complaint, a case was lodged against Afzal.
The police nabbed the accused on April 4 that year from Delhi while he was en route to his relative’s house in the National Capital. On interrogation, Afzal revealed the whereabouts of the victim, following which she was recovered by the cops. During questioning, the minor girl told police that the man “lured” her by saying that his name was Arman Kohli, and he was a Hindu. She also said that Afzal tried to convert her, the police had said at that time.
Special counsel (Amroha) Basant Singh Saini had told the court that Afzal used an alias while introducing himself to the girl. “Afzal had introduced himself to the girl as ‘Arman Kohli’. His real identity came to light later,” he had remarked. The accused was booked under the anti-conversion law after the victim’s father alleged that Afzal abducted her to change her religion. He has now been sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and fined ₹40,000.