The case is based on frivolous and over exaggerated allegations and claims of UP ATS, says civil rights advocacy group
NEW DELHI – Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) has urged the Allahabad High Court to take suo moto cognizance of the alleged “religious conversion case” and quash the FIR filed against Islamic preachers Umar Gautam and Mufti Qazi Jahangir Alam Qasmi. The case is based on frivolous and over exaggerated allegations and claims of UP Anti-Terrorism Squad, said the civil rights advocacy group in a statement released on Thursday.
The APCR believes that the arrests are not an act in isolation but a part of systematic efforts of the Uttar Pradesh government and its agencies towards curtailing the fundamental right to change religion or belief.
APCR General Secretary, Malik Motasim Khan termed the arrests as an attack on religious freedom of the citizenry of this country. He said, the right to “freely profess, practice and propagate religion” provided in the Indian constitution is one of the most comprehensive articulations of the right to “change religion or belief,” which is also a human right provided in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Supreme Court also in Shafin Jahan v. Asokan K.M (“Hadiya case”) recognised the right to convert as an intrinsic part of the Art. 21 right to life and personal liberty.
Malik Motasim also said, media should refrain from forming opinions and setting narratives based on mere assumption and suspicion and should abide by the principle of criminal jurisprudence that “every accused is presumed to be innocent unless proven guilty” and should put a break on their demonization campaigns against the accused and their faith.
The APCR demanded that the recently enacted anti-conversion laws in UP and other states be repealed. These laws fall flat in the test of constitutionality and appear to have produced rising cases of persecution and hate crimes against alleged proselytizers and their faith-based communities.
The APCR also demanded a free and fair trial and investigation of the charges levelled against the two. The government and certain sections of media must stop the stigmatisation of converts and should promote and uphold their constitutionally guaranteed rights.