Karnataka: Man who eloped with girl held — first arrest under new anti-conversion law – The Indian Express

A youth who eloped with a girl has been arrested by the Bengaluru police on charges of converting her to another religion in violation of the newly introduced state anti-conversion law — the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Act-2022.
The case filed on October 8 at the Yeshwanthpur police station is the first under the newly enacted law that was notified by the state government on September 30.
Two separate cases — one of suspected kidnapping, and another under the anti-conversion law — have been registered against Syed Muheen, 22, of north Bengaluru who allegedly eloped with his neighbour Khushboo Yadav, 18, and converted her to Islam to facilitate their marriage.
Police arrested Muheen on the basis of a complaint filed by the girl’s mother, Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Vinayak Patil said.
Muheen and Khushboo were neighbours in the B K Nagar area of Yeshwanthpur and were seeing each other for nearly six months. While Muheen worked at a chicken centre in the locality, Kushboo — one of four children in the family of a painter from UP — had dropped out of school and was staying at home.
Initially, on October 6, Khushboo’s mother Gyantidevi Yadav filed a missing complaint for her daughter stating that she is suspected to have eloped with Muheen.
On October 8, Muheen and Khushboo appeared before the police, claiming that they had married. Gyanthidevi then filed a second complaint under the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Act-2022.
According to the complaint, Khushboo was taken to a dargah near Penukonda in Andhra Pradesh on October 5 and asked by Muheen to convert to Islam. After a ceremony at the dargah, Khushboo was brought back to Bengaluru by Muheen but no marriage was solemnised, she said.
“My daughter has been converted without following the rules which state that a report must be given to the district commissioner regarding any religious conversion to facilitate inter-religious marriages,” Gyanthidevi said in her complaint, seeking action against Muheen and others who facilitated the elopement. She also claimed that her daughter lacked the intelligence of other girls and as a consequence took the decision to run away.
The Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Act-2022 which was passed by the Karnataka Legislative Assembly in December 2021 and the state Legislative Council on September 16, 2022, was notified on September 30 by the state government.
As per the law, “no person shall convert or attempt to convert either directly or otherwise any other person from one religion to another by use of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage, nor shall any person abet or conspire for conversions”.
The law says a marriage will have legal recognition only if the conversion is brought to the notice of a district magistrate 30 days in advance or 30 days post-conversion.
A jail term of three to five years, and a fine of Rs 25,000, has been proposed for people violating the law in the case of people from general categories, and a jail term of three to 10 years, and a fine of Rs 50,000 for people converting minors, women, and persons from the SC and ST communities.
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