Srinagar: Hindu youth coerced into converting to Islam and made to read Kalma

On Friday (5th April), a Hindu youth working as a house help at a Kashmiri Muslim resident’s house was allegedly forced to convert to Islam in Srinagar. The Hindu youth, identified as Sandeep from Haryana, was made to recite the Kalma and give Shahada during the Jumat-ul-Vida prayers at Dargah Hazratbal.

A video of Haryana resident Sandeep Kumar converting to Islam has gone viral online wherein he was asked by Hazratbal Dargah’s Imam and Khateeb Kamal Farooqui if he is accepting Islam of his own free will or if he was coerced into converting. To this, the Hindu youth claims he was accepting Islam at his own will. Subsequently, Kamal Farroqui recites the Islamic Kalma, and Sandeep repeats after him. During the incident on Friday, thousands of Muslims had gathered at the Dargah. The incident video soon went viral on WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media platforms.

As the police took cognisance of the video on Saturday (6th April) and initiated an investigation into the matter, it found that Sandeep Kumar was “mentally manipulated” by Anayat Muntazir, a resident of Nowhatta and owner of the house where Sandeep was working as a domestic help. The police said in the FIR that during the congregational prayers on Friday, Anayat Munatazir took Sandeep to Hazratbal Dargah and made him convert to Islam.

The FIR in the matter has been registered against the accused at Nigeen Police Station under sections 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant), 298 (Uttering words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings), 153 (giving provocation with intent to cause riot), and 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of the IPC.

“According to reliable sources, the video, shared by certain individuals associated with news portals, depicts a person named Sandeep, residing in Haryana, purportedly converting his religion during Friday prayers at the Hazratbal shrine. The dissemination of this video has stirred unrest among the public and raised concerns about religious harmony and tolerance. The incident has also evoked strong reactions beyond the borders of Jammu and Kashmir and the UT, potentially fuelling sectarianism and communal discord,” the police said in the FIR.

“Further investigation revealed that Sandeep was allegedly mentally manipulated by the owner of the house, Anayat Muntazir, a resident of Nowhatta, who employed Sandeep Kumar as a domestic worker at his home in Srinagar. Anayat reportedly took Sandeep to the Hazratbal shrine, where he allegedly coerced him into reciting the Kalima during congregational prayers to convert his religion,” the FIR adds.

Speaking on the matter, a Jammu and Kashmir police official said, “We have registered FIR no. 55/2024 at Police Station Nigeen under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including disobedience to lawful order, deliberate intent to wound religious feelings, giving provocation with intent to cause riot, and promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, etc.”

Reports say that a Sub-Inspector-level officer has been tasked with completing the case file and sending the investigation report to the Superintendent of Police for further action.

Source: OpIndia

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