UP ATS arrests three men in Nagpur under anti-conversion law

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Nagpur/Lucknow, Jul 17 (PTI) The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) has arrested three persons from Maharashtra's Nagpur in connection with a case registered in Lucknow under UP's anti-conversion law, an official said on Saturday.

The trio was arrested from the Ganeshpeth area of Nagpur city on Friday night, he added.

The accused were identified as Prasad Rameshwar Kavale alias Adam (from Nagpur), Kausar Alam Shaukat Ali Khan (from Jharkhand) and Bhupriya Bando Devidas Mankar (from Maharashtra's Gadchiroli), the police official said in Nagpur.

The three accused were staying at Hansapuri under the jurisdiction of the Ganeshpeth police station, he added.

The UP ATS had arrested some persons last month and claimed to have busted a nationwide racket of religious conversions. An FIR was lodged at the Gomtinagar police station in Lucknow under the state's anti-conversion law.

ADG (law and order) of the Uttar Pradesh police Prashant Kumar said in Lucknow the arrested persons are being brought to the state capital by road and will be produced before the court. Efforts will be made to secure their police custody for questioning in connection with a larger conspiracy.

The UP ATS had earlier arrested five persons, including Umar Gautam, who was running a conversion racket trapping poor as well as deaf and mute people with allurements with the help of his associates. They were also getting national and international funding for this illegal act.

The arrests made in Maharashtra were in this connection, the ADG said, adding that among those arrested in Nagpur, Kavale was the focal point of the Maharashtra network.

Kavale alias Adam is a graduate and about 30 years of age. His wife is an Egyptian national. He was in constant touch with Gautam and involved in conversion activities in Maharashtra, the officer said.

Besides Egypt, he also has links to Central Asian and Muslim-dominated countries and was involved in spreading the Islamic propaganda, he added.

Another person arrested in Nagpur, Kausar Alam, around 50 years of age, has old ties with Gautam, the ADG said, adding that he was involved in the conversion conspiracy in Maharashtra and Karnataka among other places and had connections with others in the network.

Bhupriya Bando also had ties with the members of the conversion racket who worked in Maharashtra and looked after the funding work of the Maharashtra network and Gautam.

The Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, which was promulgated in November last year, prohibits unlawful religious conversions and nullifies marriages if they are carried out for the sole purpose of religious conversion. The law provides for imprisonment of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of Rs 50,000 under different categories. PTI COR SAB RC

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