ISI to ISIS: How marriages in India are being exploited for religious conversion
New Delhi, June 22: In police custody, Mohammad Umar Gautam, a man who had converted from Hinduism to Islam boasted," I converted 1,000 non-Muslims to Islam by marrying them all to Muslims.
This point makes it very clear that marriages have been used as a tool for religious conversion. We witnessed a similar incident in Kerala where many women were married off and then lured into joining the Islamic State. The issue is back in the news following the arrest of two persons who were indulging in religious conversions in UP and during their interrogation they said that they had lured Hindus with marriage, money and jobs.
Umar along with Mufti Qazi Jahangir Alam Qasm from Delhi's Jamia Nagar were arrested by the police for running an outfit involved in converting deaf and dumb students and other poor people to Islam in Uttar Pradesh with funding from the Pakistan's ISI. The arrests were made by Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad following the registration of an FIR in the case at Lucknow's ATS police station.
Recently the Allahabad High Court had said conversion only for marriage is unacceptable. The court made the observation while rejecting a petition filed by an inter-faith couple seeking directions to the police and the girl's father not to interfere in their married life.
While rejecting the petition the court said that the lady has converted her religion on June 29 2020 and solemnised the marriage on July 31. This clearly reveals that the conversion has taken place only for the sake of marriage.
A lady from Kerala had said that she had met a person called Mushabeer and fell in love with him.
However later on he began to pressurise her to convert to Islam. He also threatened to pour acid on her if she did not change her religion, she had also alleged.
Similar issues have come up before the Supreme Court and in the Rev Stanislaus vs Madhya Pradesh case, the question was whether the fundamental right to practice religion also included the right to convert. The court held in clear terms that while Article 25 does provide freedom of religion, it also went on to state the word propagate religion does not give the right to convert.
The word propagate has been used in Article 25(1) of the Indian Constitution, but that does not give the right to convert another person to one's own religion, but to transmit or spread one's religion by an exposition of its tenets.
The Bench also observed that while propagating religion was allowed, converting does not form part of fundamental rights. What the Article grants is not the right to convert another person to one's own religion, but to transmit or spread one's religion by an exposition of its tenets.
In the Sarla Mudgal case, the court had held that the religious conversion into Islam by a person from non-Islamic faith is not valid if the conversion is done for the purpose of polygamy.
In the Lily Thomas case it was observed that marrying another woman after converting to Islam is punishable under the bigamy laws.
In the Chandra Sekaran case the court had observed that a person does not ceases to be Hindu nearly because he declares that he has no faith in his religion.
The Law commission of India which was asked to look into the issue of forcible conversions made the following recommendations.
Within a month after the date of conversion, the converted person, if she/he chooses, can send a declaration to the officer in charge of registration of marriages in the concerned area.
The registering official shall exhibit a copy of the declaration on the Notice Board of the office till the date of confirmation.
The said declaration shall contain the requisite details viz., the particulars of the convert such as date of birth, permanent address, and the present place of residence, father's/husband's name, the religion to which the convert originally belonged and the religion to which he or she converted, the date and place of conversion and nature of the process gone through for conversion.
Within 21 days from the date of sending/filing the declaration, the converted individual can appear before the registering officer, establish her/his identity and confirm the contents of the declaration.
The registering officer shall record the factum of declaration and confirmation in a register maintained for this purpose. If any objections are notified, he may simply record them i.e., the name and particulars of objector and the nature of objection.
Certified copies of declaration, confirmation and the extracts from the register shall be furnished to the party who gave the declaration or the authorized legal representative, on request.