Why Have Uttar Pradesh Police Not Invoked Anti-Forced Conversion Law In Dushyant Chaudhary's Suicide Over Interfaith Marriage?

Why Have Uttar Pradesh Police Not Invoked Anti-Forced Conversion Law In Dushyant Chaudhary's Suicide Over Interfaith Marriage?

by Swati Goel Sharma - Wednesday, February 1, 2023 10:38 AM IST
Why Have Uttar Pradesh Police Not Invoked Anti-Forced Conversion Law In Dushyant Chaudhary's Suicide Over Interfaith Marriage?Dushyant Chaudhary with his wife Farha and their daughter.
  • Despite the forced conversion allegations, police have booked Dushyant's wife and in-laws only for abetment to suicide.

Three days ago, a man named Dushyant Chowdhary hanged himself to death at his home in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh.

His family alleged that he took the extreme step under constant pressure of his Muslim in-laws to convert to Islam.

Dushyant was 25.

Based on a complaint by Dushyant's cousin Johny, the Nauchandi Police filed a first information report (FIR) on 29 January (number 15/2023). However, despite the forced conversion allegations, police have booked Dushyant's wife and in-laws only for abetment to suicide.

Dushyant’s father passed away 10 years ago and he is survived by his mother and a sister, besides his wife Farha and a two-year-old daughter, who live separately.

Dushyant and his wife Farha
Dushyant and his wife Farha
Relatives of Dushyant
Relatives of Dushyant
Amar Ujala

What His Family Told Swarajya

Dushyant's cousin Johny said that Farha was a friend of Dushyant’s sister Rekha and visited their house often. Farha and Dushyant entered into a relationship. His family objected to it, but Dushyant had made up his mind.

"I once found a burqa in Dushyant's bag. That's what confirmed my suspicions. Then everyone in the family learnt about it. We tried to talk to Dushyant out of it, but he was adamant that he wanted to marry Farha," says Johny.

A little before the Covid-induced nationwide lockdown came into effect in March 2020, Dushyant left home. The family found him living with Farha.

They reached the police station for help. The police traced the couple, presented them before the magistrate, but allowed them to continue to live together as they were both major (above 18 years of age).

Johny says that during this time, Dushyant lost touch with his family, but Farha remained in contact with hers.

Swarajya also spoke to Sumit, a friend of Dushyant.

He said that while the two were dating, Dushyant had adopted Islamic ways. He had stopped going to temples or accepting puja offerings such as prasad.

Once, Sumit saw him coming out of a mosque wearing a skull cap and white kurta-pajama. When Sumit tried to talk to him, Dushyant argued that Islam was the only religion suitable to follow. When Sumit argued against it, Dushyant got angry and left.

A few days later, Sumit found the name of Dushyant’s Facebook account changed to ‘Faiz Qureshi’.

Sumit shared with Swarajya a picture of Dushyant in a skull cap which he once posted on Facebook.

Why Have Uttar Pradesh Police Not Invoked Anti-Forced Conversion Law In Dushyant Chaudhary's Suicide Over Interfaith Marriage?

A year after he left to live with Farha, Dushyant returned home, but remained aloof and mostly confined to his room. This was around the time when second lockdown came into effect in 2021.

Sumit noticed a change. Dushyant had deleted his Facebook account and begun going to temples again. The two friends however did not talk about it.

Sumit learnt that Dushyant had had a daughter with Farha, and the reason for his return was that while he had tried his best to change his faith and lifestyle to suit Farha’s family, he had got tired of it.

“Dushyant had grown tired of changing everything about him. In his heart, he was Hindu, and had stopped following Islamic customs,” Sumit told Swarajya.

Farha’s family had taken Farha and the daughter away from him. They had put a condition on him that if he wanted to have his wife and daughter back, he would have to live as a Muslim.

“Her family wanted him to read kalma again and serve [Tablighi] Jamaat for 40 days in Deoband,” says Sumit.

“Perhaps tired of it all, he committed suicide,” he adds.

Dushyant belonged to the Jat caste of Hindus. He would take bookings for DJ system, which was his source of earning.

Johny, who works as a school teacher, had been taking care of Dushyant’s mother in his absence. Dushyant's sister Rekha is married.

What The FIR Says

Johny’s statement recorded in the FIR repeats what he and Sumit told Swarajya but is concise. You can read the statement below.

Johny's statement recorded in the FIR
Johny's statement recorded in the FIR

He identified four persons as accused namely Farha, her father Hanif, her mother (name not mentioned) and her brother Amjad Ibrahim. Farha’s sisters (names not mentioned) and “seven-eight unidentified men” have also been named.

The Nauchandi Police of Meerut have so far booked the accused only for abetting suicide.

Notably, despite the state government enacting a law against forced conversions in November 2020, the police have been found to be applying the Act sparingly.

For instance, in a case where a Muslim man fooled a Hindu woman into believing that he was Hindu and went to the extent of getting the Hindu name printed on the wedding invitation cards, the police did not invoke the UP Freedom of Religion Act.

Spate Of Such Cases And The Reason Behind Them

This case from Meerut is only the latest in a spate of cases where Hindu men have paid the price of extreme intolerance to interfaith marriages in the Muslim community. This intolerance is for those interfaith unions where the non-Muslim spouse does not convert to Islam.

This correspondent has reported several such cases including the one in December where a Hindu man living in Maharashtra’s Daund area (in Pune) with his Muslim wife of four years was forcibly circumcised by a cleric and his gang with slurs of ‘kafir’.

The victim, Bablu Milind Chauhan, belongs to the Valmiki jati, which comes under Scheduled Castes. The incident happened after a local cleric and his group learnt from neighbours about a Muslim woman living with a Hindu man as his wife.

The gang first tried to convince him to convert to Islam, but when Bablu paid no heed to their words, they allegedly caught him at his house, forcibly undressed him and performed the circumcision.

A bleeding Bablu left the house and city with his wife and children the same day. Later, a Maharashtra-based organisation named Legal Rights Observatory pursued the case and got an FIR filed in the case on 16 December 2022 against three persons namely Qumail Qureshi alias Haji, Asif (a neighbour of Bablu who tipped off Qumail) and an unknown person.

This correspondent spoke to Bablu two weeks ago and he is fine.

Islamic scholars throughout the world have dwelt on the issue of interfaith marriages that do not involve conversion of the non-Muslim partner to Islam, and many have unabashedly proclaimed that such a union is prohibited.

Closer home, India’s largest seminary Darul Uloom Deoband maintains that “a Muslim woman cannot marry a Hindu man…they may not be halal for each other after having marriage and their marital relation will be regarded as adultery and prohibition”. 

This opposition has roots in the most widely accepted interpretation of verses from the Quran regarding marriage as well the Islamic idea of ‘Dawah’ that makes it incumbent on all Muslims to get non-Muslims converted to Islam. 

Verse 2:221 of the Quran reads“And do not marry polytheistic women until they believe. And a believing slave woman is better than a polytheist, even though she might please you. And do not marry polytheistic men [to your women] until they believe. And a believing slave is better than a polytheist, even though he might please you. Those invite [you] to the Fire, but Allah invites to Paradise and to forgiveness, by His permission. And He makes clear His verses to the people that perhaps they may remember.”

The belief isn’t limited to clerics and resonates even with the so-called progressives. The Milli Gazette, a portal that caters to English-speaking Indian Muslims, described Tunisia’s historic decision to allow Muslim women to marry non-Muslims as a “sign of apocalypse”.

The secular Indian Constitution and laws do not treat these diktats as binding on any citizen and allow them to have interfaith marriages as per their choice, with provisions to bypass the condition of conversion-nikah

However, the religious obligation to prevent such unions has evidently prompted community members to take extreme steps. This zeal more often than not proves to be a nightmare for interfaith couples where the non-Muslim spouse does not convert to Islam.

One manifestation of it is routinely seen in the murders of Hindu men for marrying or befriending Muslim women. Such victims include Ankit Saxena, Sanjay Kumar, Dablu Singh and Rahul Rajput, if we take cases from New Delhi over the past couple of years alone. 

Another manifestation of it is also routinely seen in the cases of forcible conversion of non-Muslim women marrying Muslim men even if they have a court marriage. 

Yet another manifestation of it is seen in the much lesser-publicised cases, such as the recent one in Meerut, of forcible conversion of non-Muslim men if they marry Muslim women.

Other Similar Cases

In October, a man named Jagveer Kori from Uttar Pradesh, also belonging to a Scheduled Caste, filed a police case against his wife and her family of forcing him to convert to Islam 12 years after their marriage.

As per his complaint, he met a woman who introduced herself as an orphan named Pooja. The two got married soon after. It turned out that Pooja was from a Muslim family, was named Haseena Bano and had eloped from her house. Recently, she was able to make contact with her family. Read Swarajya’s report here.

In November 2021, a Hindu man filed a police case against his Muslim wife of hiding her Muslim identity when marrying him and later forcing him to convert to Islam and get circumcised.

In June 2021, a Sikh man from Punjab moved the Chandigarh district court seeking directions to restrain his Muslim wife and her relatives from forcibly converting him to Islam. 

The plea said that though his Muslim wife had promised him before their marriage that she and her family would never force him to convert to her religion, he was pressured soon after the marriage to give up his Sikh faith. The family was forcing him to get his son circumcised as per Islamic custom.

In 2020, Swarajya covered a case where an orphaned man named Sushil, born in a Hindu Jat family of Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh, was converted to Islam by his Muslim employer when he was a minor. At 30, when ‘Salim’ felt he was no more dependent on that employer, he gave an affidavit to a local court saying he was converting to Hindu faith again and renaming himself as Sushil. 

This prompted not only attacks on him by his neighbours, but his father-in-law also forcibly separated him from his wife and children. Similar to what happened with Dushyant, Sushil’s in-laws told him that the only choice before him was to read the kalma again and attend Tablighi Jamaat for a consecutive 40 days.

Sushil was helped by an organisation named Agniveer, which helped him shift to another city with his wife and children, without knowledge of his in-laws. This correspondent is in touch with the family, who are living as Hindus and are doing fine.

(Subhi Vishwakarma has contributed to reporting in Dushyant Chaudhary's suicide case).

Swati Goel Sharma is a senior editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @swati_gs.

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