- The accused were involved in illegal religious conversion of over 100 Hindu tribals over many years
- A total of nine persons were named in FIR registered by Bharuch district police
- The accused were using foreign funds for illegal conversion
At least four people, who were part of a racket involved in the religious conversion of over 100 tribal people to Islam, were arrested in Gujarat's Bharuch. The accused were involved in an illegal racket of religious conversion using foreign funds in Amod Taluka village of Bharuch for many years.
They have been identified as Abdul Ajij Patel aka Ajit Chagan Patel, Yusuf Jeewan Patel aka Mahendra Jeewan Wasawa, Aiyub Barkat Patel aka Raman Barkat Patel and Ibrahim Puna Patel aka Jeetu Puna Wasawa. All are residents of Kankaria village. The main accused, Abdulla Fefdawal had visited Bharuch several times in the past.
Of the total nine persons against whom an FIR was registered by the Bharuch district police on November 15, four were arrested on Wednesday, said Bharuch Deputy SP MP Bhojani.
The FIR was registered against the nine persons under the Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act along with section 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 153(B)(C) (act likely to cause disharmony) and 506 (2) (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly luring tribals of Kankaria village in Amod taluka to embracing Islam by offering them money and other allurements.
"Using foreign funds collected and sent by Fefdawala, the local accused fraudulently converted nearly 100 Vasava Hindus to Islam. This racket has been going on for the last 15 years. The accused persons lured the poor tribals by offering them money, food, jobs, clothes and education," said Bharuch SP MP Bhojani.
Meanwhile, Vadodara Police has informed their Bharuch counterpart that Umar Gautam and Salauddin Shaikh, the Managing Trustee of Vadodara-based AFMI Charitable Trust, were also involved in this conversion racket operated in Bharuch using foreign funds.
Gautam was held by the UP Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) in June on charges of fraudulently converting people to Islam.
Later, UP ATS arrested Gautam's aide Shaikh from Vadodara for his involvement in diverting funds of AFMI trust for conversions and to provide legal help to anti-CAA protestors and those arrested in Delhi communal riots.
Last month, Vadodara Police, probing the alleged misuse of foreign funds, took custody of both the accused from UP ATS and brought them here.
They are currently in judicial custody.
The investigation by the Vadodara city crime branch has revealed that Fefdawala had sent Rs 80 crore to Shaikh through FCRA and Hawala channels as part of a conspiracy, the crime branch said in a release issued on Wednesday.
Shaikh had used this money to fund the construction of mosques in border areas (of Gujarat), convert people to Islam in Gujarat and in other parts of the country and fund anti-CAA protests. Part of this fund was also used to provide legal help to rioters held by the Delhi police following protests, said the release.
"We have also learnt that funds were also used for converting nearly 100 tribals of Amod under a well-planned conspiracy," said Assistant Commissioner of Police, Vadodara city crime branch, DS Chauhan.
(With inputs from PTI)