All India Da’wah Centres Association has said that the recent arrests of two Muslim scholars Mohammad Umar Gautam and Mufti Quazi Jahangeer Quasmi by the Anti-Terrorist Squad of Uttar Pradesh under draconian anti-conversion law, violated the duo’s constitutional rights at every stage.

The Muslim body has expressed shock over the arrests and said the UP Police action is clearly in violation of Articles 25-28 of the Indian Constitution.

“The rights of the citizens are protected by the Indian Constitution and all the citizens enjoy them without any bias or prejudice. On one hand, the Indian Constitution, in Article 25, gives the right to profess, practice and propagate any religion, Article 26 gives the right to manage religious and charitable institutions; on the other hand, the various Anti-Conversion laws restrict people from freely accepting any religion. This clearly indicates disregarding with impunity of the very core intention of the Indian Constitution,” read the statement issued by All India Da’wah Centres Association.

According to the FIR lodged with Gomtinagar police station under the state’s new anti-conversion law, the Muslim scholars involved the conversion of children and women to Islam and more than 1,000 people had been converted so far. The two accused have been escorted by armed ATS team members at signature building head quarters of UP police on Monday.

The arrested scholars are both residents of Jamia Nagar in New Delhi.

In a press conference, additional director general (Law & Order) of UP, Prashant Kumar said in Lucknow, “The duo was involved in an illegal, large scale conversion of people of different faiths to Islam in UP and other parts of the country. Our teams are working to identify other members of the group and their supporters.”

The name of the chairman of Islamic Da’wah Centre is also mentioned in the FIR.

Responding to the UP police’s claims of “religious conversion racket,” the Muslim body alleged that the arrests made by the UP ATS itself displays haste and bad in law action by the state machinery backed by the government to suppress the adherents of Islam and its propagators by labelling them “religious conversion racket”.

AIDCA went on to say: “Propagating one’s religion is not wrong and thus we are bound to ask ‘does ATS have any such right / jurisdiction to arrest them’? Besides, we also see a virulent campaign of ‘forced conversion’ in the name of ‘Ghar Wapsi’, to which all the state machinery and the government turn a blind eye. It’s really painful to see the state of affairs we are witnessing these days where biased behaviour of the institutions is exposed.”

The umbrella body of Da’wah centres strongly condemns the way the case is blown out of proportion, uncalled for and stringent laws / sections of the IPC invoked against the accused.

AIDCA also said it stands with the arrested Muslim scholars and their families and asks for immediate release of the duo.

The Muslim body has requested the Allahabad High Court to quash the FIR by taking a suo motu cognizance of the matter where the fundamental rights of the accused are violated.

The statement further said: “It is pertinent to mention that a vicious campaign is being run by vested interests to defame Islam and project Muslims as anti-national, Muslims are used as scapegoats to create false narratives and to divert the attention from the main issues, in this context, it becomes very important for Muslims to explain to their fellow countrymen what Islam is all about and to build a bridge that can help restore the communal harmony we have boasted about for centuries. Mere propagation of Islam with an aim to explain it in the right perspective is not ‘Forceful Conversion’ as is alleged in many of the cases which fail judicial scrutiny during the trial/s.”

Many including Opposition parties, rights activists, Muslim leaders and international rights watchdogs have been raising concerns about the new Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020. Most of it has been around the law being a violation of an individual’s all fundamental rights. The law makes the private choice of a person who converts to another religion subject to the whims of the government of the day.

More than 100 Muslim youth were arbitrarily arrested by UP police under the new draconian law till now.

The law, which came into force in the form of an ordinance on November 28 last year, is seen as giving legal teeth to the BJP’s anti-Muslim campaign the so-called ‘love jihad‘.

This article first appeared on maktoobmedia.com