Tension prevailed in the Nagla-Singhi hamlet of Aligarh’s Mainath village following allegations that a group of religious preachers were trying to convert members of the Kanjar community to Islam.
A huge police force has been deployed in the area to prevent any untoward incident. Under pressure from villagers and some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, police arrested seven persons of the Muslim community and later released them on personal bond when a large number of ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders objected to the arrest.
The preachers have been identified as Nasibul Hasan, Mohammad Salman, Shan Mohammad, Mohammad Faisal, Mohammad Sarfuddin, Mohammad Ishtaq and Raza Mohammad. The police action was based on a written complaint by village chief Satish Singh, who alleged that the preachers of Muslim community from Kazipada and Madina localities were about to convert the members of the Kanjar community in the village.
“They (the group of Muslim preachers) have been visiting our village for the last three months. Three days ago, they intensified their activities and invited some villagers to offer namaz with them. They had planned conversion of Hindus with the help of a villager,” the village chief claimed.
Nazmul Shaqib, station officer of Madrak police station under which Mainak falls, said: “We have registered a case against seven people for trying to influence the villagers and convincing them to convert. They were released on bail, but Suraj Pal, the villager in whose house everything was happening, has not been released.”
But Pal insisted their visit had nothing to do with conversion and that he has been friends with the preachers since a long time. “They were going to the Muslim locality in the village when I ran into them. Since they were my long-time friends, I invited them to my house for tea. But it was time for namaz, so I spread a carpet on the floor for their convenience. Their visit has nothing to do with conversion,” he said.
Aligarh Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) J. Ravindra Gaur said: “Action was initiated on the complaint of the village chief. Further probe is on. The situation is under control.”
Aligarh Mayor Shakuntala Bharti, along with her supporters and BJP district president Devraj Singh, had also visited the village demanding quick action against the preachers. “I am surprised that the culprits have been released under the pressure of the SP government. They were planning to organise mass conversion in the village,” the mayor alleged.
But SP MLA Zafar Alam, who reached the spot soon after the arrest of the preachers, said: “Some people are trying to make this an issue to gain political mileage. These preachers were not involved in any conversion.”
S.M. Kayam, Aligarh district spokesperson of All India Babri Masjid Action Committee, blamed the administration for mishandling the case. “The preachers had gone to the village to spread the message of Islam. They didn’t do anything to convert the people of other religion. The allegation is baseless,” he said.