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Supreme court directs ‘absconding’ Maulvi Mahmood, accused of deceptively converting 37 Hindu families, to appear before Investigating Officer

Mahmood, along with 5 others, had lured the victims by gifting them air coolers, water coolers, lories, chatai (carpet) to perform Namaz, dresses, medicines, ration, and cash.

On January 13 this year, the Supreme Court directed an ‘absconding’ Maulvi named Varyava Abdul Vahab Mahmood to appear before the Investigation Officer in a case pertaining to the deceptive conversion of 37 Hindu families to Islam.

Mahmood, along with 5 others, had lured the victims by gifting them air coolers, water coolers, lories, chatai (carpet) to perform Namaz, dresses, medicines, ration, and cash. The matter came up for hearing before a 2-Judge Bench of Justices M. R. Shah and C. T. Ravikumar.

The apex court noted, “Learned counsel appearing for the State of Gujarat (respondent) has made a very serious grievance that the petitioner (Varyava Abdul Vahab Mahmood), after obtaining the interim protection from this Court and even prior thereto, is absconding and not cooperating in the investigation and has never appeared before the concerned Investigating Agency/Officer.”

The Judges directed the absconding Mahmood to appear, before the Investigating Officer at the Aamod Police Station in Bharuch, every day between January 16 and January 20 at 11 o’clock in the morning and assist in the ongoing investigation.

“Before we consider the allegations and the counter allegations against the petitioner and the material collected, let the petitioner first appear before the concerned Investigating Agency/ Officer – Aamod Police Station, Bharuch between 16.01.2023 to 20.01.2023 at 11.00 A.M. every day for the purpose of interrogation/investigation,” they added.

The Court pointed out that the merits of the case will only be taken into consideration after the petitioner complies with the court’s directions.

The Conversion racket led by Varyava Abdul Vahab Mahmood

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 with 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 of 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 the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2003.

As per the FIR, the 5 accused, along with an Islamic preacher named Varyava Abdul Vahab Mahmood converted a total of 37 Hindu families and 100 Hindus by providing them with monetary support. They also converted a house, built with government funds, into an Ibadatgaah (Islamic place of worship).

When Pravinbhai expressed his desire to return to Hinduism, he was threatened with dire consequences on October 26, 2021. 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 had tried to lure people to Islam by providing them gifts.

On December 28, 2021, a Special court rejected the anticipatory bail application of Varyava Abdul Vahab Mahmood, following which he moved to the High Court seeking relief. However, his petition was dismissed by the High Court on April 4, 2022, based on prima-facie details of the case.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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