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The Shocking Case Of Forced Conversion To Islam As Punishment For Supporting BJP In Bengal

  • A thorough probe will, says the BJP, expose the involvement of the police with crime cartels and cops’ links with Islamist terror outfits. 

Jaideep MazumdarApr 12, 2023, 06:48 PM | Updated Apr 13, 2023, 10:14 AM IST

BJP in West Bengal.

The ‘punishment’ for supporting the BJP in the badlands of Bengal is forced conversion to Islam.

Two men who are siblings and residents of Kaliachak area of the Muslim-majority Malda district, were allegedly abducted a little over six months after the stiffly-contested Assembly elections in Bengal in 2021. 

The two brothers--Gouranga Mondal and Buddhu Mondal--had worked for the BJP in the elections and despite many warnings by local Trinamool activists, they had refused to sever their ties with the BJP. 

They were ultimately abducted, allegedly by local Trinamool musclemen, on November 24, 2021. They were then allegedly threatened, assaulted and told they would be killed if they did not convert to Islam. 

Fearing for their lives, the battered and bruised brothers agreed to convert. Their tormentors, all Muslims allegedly owing allegiance to the Trinamool, got hold of a Muslim cleric and forced them to recite the kalma, eat beef and offer namaz

The wives of the two men, who are also siblings, were shocked to learn about their husbands who were devout Hindus and die-hard BJP supporters. Gouranga had been renamed Gousal Azam and Buddhu as Mohammed Ibrahim Sheikh. 

The two sisters then tried to lodge an FIR against their husbands’ tormentors at the Kaliachak police station. 

But the officer-in-charge of the police station reportedly refused to accept their complaint. The aggrieved women even complained to the district police chief, but he also reportedly ignored their complaints. 

After some local Bengali newspapers reported the shocking incident (read this), the police came in for severe criticism from social media users. But the Malda district police refuted the allegations and termed them as “false and motivated”. 

The Malda police also declared that the brothers had stated before a (local) court that “they had converted of their own free will without any influence”. 

High Court Orders CBI and NIA Probes

The two women filed a special leave petition before the Calcutta High Court on May 18 last year. A single bench of Justice Rajasekhar Mantha took cognisance of their complaints and ordered the CBI and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to jointly probe the allegations levelled by the two women.

“The petitioners have alleged that their husbands were forced to convert to Islam by threat, intimidation and/or under influence of drugs. It is also alleged that the forced conversion is a part of a punishment for supporting a rival political party. It is surprising to note that despite receipt of complaints, the inspector-in-charge, Kaliachak police station has not registered FIRs and Malda SP has not ordered any steps, as were required to be taken,” the High Court order said. 

The High Court also asked the Malda superintendent of police to provide security cover to the two women.

The state government, unsurprisingly, tried to brush aside the allegations. Senior advocate Mohammed Galib, who was representing the Bengal government, told the court that “the husbands of the petitioners had left them over family disputes and are presently residing at Pratappur in Malda”. 

One of the brothers had filed a police complaint against his wife at Kaliachak police station, based on which the police filed a first information report (FIR) and submitted a charge sheet on March 31, Galib said. 

The husbands have deposed under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) that they voluntarily converted to Islam, Galib told the court and referred to two affidavits signed by them before a notary. But the High Court rejected his contention. 

Justice Mantha also asked the CBI and NIA to probe the allegations of random forcible conversion, cross border infiltration, threats and stockpiling of arms, ammunition and counterfeit currency notes that the petitioners raised.

CBI Submits Preliminary Report

The CBI submitted its preliminary report in a sealed envelope to the High Court earlier this week. 

The CBI counsel told the Court that the agency would submit its final report soon. After that, Justice Mantha asked the NIA to take up the probe into the allegations of forced conversions. 

It is learnt that the CBI has already found the allegations of forced conversion of the two brothers to be true. 

The two were forced to make false declarations before a local court that they converted to Islam of their own free will. 

The NIA will now probe other angles, especially the cross-border connections of the alleged abductors and tormentors of the two brothers.

The NIA will probe the antecedents of the accused, their involvement in various crimes, including cattle-smuggling, smuggling in fake Indian currency notes, arms smuggling and drugs-trafficking. 

The federal probe agency will also investigate cross-border infiltration and the involvement of the accused in such illegal activities. 

The CBI probe has also revealed some of the accused and their associates have links with Islamist terror groups with roots in Bangladesh. The NIA is set to probe these linkages. 

The twin probes are sure to open a can of worms and cause a lot of embarrassment to the Trinamool Congress because of the alleged involvement of many of its functionaries in the districts in cross-border crimes and their links with radical Islamist outfits.

Kaliachak--A Hotbed Of Islamic Fundamentalism

Kaliachak town, about 16 kilometres west of the India-Bangladesh border, is a crime hub. 

The town, where Muslims form an overwhelming majority of the population, has gained notoriety as a fake currency hub. A number of criminal gangs involved in smuggling cattle, arms, narcotics and fake currency to and from Bangladesh are located in the town. 

The town is also the den of crime lords who control illegal poppy farms in the district. A number of Islamist terror outfits, including the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), the Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) and the al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (aQIS) have their modules here. 

In January 2016, the town witnessed horrific riots by belligerent Islamist mobs who attacked and looted the local police station, torched police vehicles and destroyed public and private properties. 

Kaliachak was in the news in May last year when some Hindu women sat on a dharna alleging that the inspector in-charge of the Kaliachak police station was forcing Hindus to convert to Islam (watch this video). 

The women alleged that the police officer was harassing Hindus of Kaliachak, threatening to lodge false cases against them and arrest them if they did not convert to Islam. 

The BJP had demanded strong action against the police officer. State BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar had demanded a probe through a tweet. BJP national IT department in-charge Amit Malviya had also tweeted about this. 

But the district police dismissed the charges and labelled them as false and malicious. 

Now, however, the Kaliachak police is also in the NIA’s crosshairs with the federal agency set to probe the cross-border crimes in the area. A thorough probe will, says the BJP, expose the involvement of the police with crime cartels and cops’ links with Islamist terror outfits. 

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