26 Dec 2020: Muslim youth thrashed, then arrested under UP's anti-conversion law
Before he was booked under Uttar Pradesh's controversial anti-conversion law earlier this month, a Muslim youth was beaten by locals in Bijnor, the police confirmed.
An FIR was registered after a video of the incident surfaced.
Two people have been arrested in connection to the brutal assault and more arrests are likely, Bijnor SP Dharm Veer Singh said.
Here's what happened.
What happened: While returning from birthday party, boy and girl were harassed
The case dates back to December 14 when a Dalit girl, 16, and her ex-classmate were returning from a birthday party.
Late at night, they were waylaid by locals and assaulted.
Cops took the boy away when his religion was known. Later, a case was registered under sections of the SC/ST Act, POCSO Act, and the new law. He is currently in jail.
Statement: What wrong did my daughter do, asked the father
Earlier, speaking to Indian Express, the girl's father hinted he was coerced into filing a complaint against the boy.
"I trust my daughter completely. What wrong did she do? Is it unlawful for a boy and a girl to walk together now?" he asked.
He hinted at a conspiracy, saying his daughter was targeted as he planned to run for local elections again.
Fact: 'They have shamed my daughter'
"They made videos of my daughter and falsely claimed that this was a case of "love jihad." I have been a pradhan before and was planning to contest again. But now they have shamed my daughter and polarized the village," he told the daily.
Clip: However, in one clip, girl's father seconded police's version
Dismissing the girl's father's words, the current village head said he helped him file the complaint.
Meanwhile, a video also circulated on social media where the father was seen concurring the police's version.
"The Muslim boy had taken my girl away. The police are helping me and there is no question of any pressure or force," he purportedly said, reports NDTV.
Girl's version: Separately, girl confirmed they were beaten, junked 'love jihad' theories
Meanwhile, the girl had told IE that this isn't a case of "love jihad," and that they were just returning from a birthday party.
"I have told this to the magistrate, and I will say this again. Those men had a problem with me walking with my friend," she added.
She confirmed that they were beaten mercilessly, also revealing that the boy was limping when she last saw him.
Case: Two locals have been arrested for beating the youth
Speaking on the assault, SP Singh claimed police acted swiftly after learning about it. "An inquiry has been set up under SP (rural) and two persons have been arrested," he informed.
The two arrested locals have been identified as Shakir and Shehzad.
Notably, the jailed youth's family has also contested police's assertions that the arrested youth is not a minor, but 18 years old.