Days after the dreadful case of a Love Jihad was reported from the Rahuri region of Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, the Hindu individuals who were arrested by the Police in a ‘false’ case have been granted bail after being ‘ill-treated and abused’ for around 4-5 days in the custody. Around 13 out of 25 booked in an alleged false case were arrested by the police who charged the former for allegedly damaging the Masjid in the area and also pelting stones at a shop of a Muslim individual. Notably, the police furthered the action based on a complaint filed by one Salim Pathan who himself has been arrested in another case for trapping the minor Hindu girls from the region and forcing them to convert to Islam.
The incident happened in Umbre village of Rahuri region in Ahmednagar district last week. Around 3-4 Hindu minor girls complained that they were forced to convert their religion to Islam and follow Islamic practices by their tuition teacher identified as Heena Sheikh (Pathan). The girls also said that the teacher forced them to talk to her ‘relative’ Avej Sheikh who then trapped them in a love affair in separate incidents and threatened them to convert their religion. As reported earlier, Avej also forced the girls to embrace Islam, marry and run away with him.
Salim Pathan booked Hindus alleging latter caused damage to Masjid
The event created massive outrage among the villagers on July 26 and July 27 after which the police complaint of the girls was registered and the accused persons were arrested. The eight accused identified as Avej Nisar Sheikh, Kaif Sheikh, Sohail Sheikh, Heena Sheikh, Alisha Sheikh, Salim Pathan, Altaf Sheikh and Shakir Sayyed have now been arrested but the local villagers continue to live under the fear that their girls will again have to face something like this if the accused persons are not strictly punished by law.
Team OpIndia visited Umbre village on August 3 to learn that the 13 Hindu persons from Rahuri who were arrested by the police and released on bail on August 1 were in no way involved in damaging the Masjid as claimed by accused Salim Pathan. Pathan on July 27 had filed a police complaint against the members of the local Hindu organisation who took cognizance of the event of minor Hindu girls being deliberately trapped and had come forward to help the victim girls. In the FIR, Pathan mentioned that the members of the Hindu organization attacked his place of work and barged into a nearby Masjid further creating ruckus in the premises. He also claimed that the Hindu members damaged the Masjid using rods and sticks. Accordingly, the police booked around 25 in the case and arrested 13 on July 27.
Hindu members say ‘booked in false case, were not present in Umbre when the ruckus happened’
One of the 13 arrested (now granted bail) by the Police in an alleged ‘false’ case talked to OpIndia on August 3 on the condition of anonymity and confirmed that the members of the local Hindu group were specifically targeted for extending help to the minor victim girls who were trapped in a Love Jihad case. “We were not present at the time when the probable ruckus happened in the Masjid area. We are not denying that some ruckus might have happened around the Masjid that day but none of the arrested Hindu members were present at the spot when the incident happened,” Suhas (name changed for security reasons said. He also said that the members were tortured and targeted by the local police for being active among Hindus groups.
As per Suhas (name changed), the saga began on July 26, when one of the Hindu minor victim girls exposed to her family that she was being threatened by a boy named Avej, his sister Alisha and tuition teacher Heena. The girl told her family that she was being threatened to convert her religion to Islam, wear burqa and be into a relationship by Avej and his sister Alisha. Tuition teacher Heena meanwhile trained her to behave like Muslim girls and stopped her from wearing bangles and kumkum on forehead. The girl also revealed that other Muslim persons in the village were helping the boys with financial assistance and had helped him to plan trap the girls.
“The news spread like fire in the village. After this two more girls came forward from the same tuition and revealed that they were also being threatened and forced by Avej, Alisha and Heena to convert their religion. The girls further said that the Muslim boys had photographs of them which were being used to threaten them to be in a relationship with Avej. The villagers could not digest this fact and everybody got enraged. It was the evening time on July 26. It is a routine here that villagers gather at a spot for some dairy business. That day this issue probably got attention in the gathering after which the enraged villagers moved towards the home of the tuition teacher and other accused like Pathan and Sayyed to seek answers. These people stay very close to the Masjid in the area where the probable ruckus is said to have happened.
It was around 8:30 pm when the fuss happened. At that time we all (13 arrested Hindu members) were in Rahuri which is 20-30 kms away from Umbre village. We came to know about the incident and moved to see what exactly had happened. We had heard that the girls were being trapped and that they and their family members needed help. So we offered to help and proposed to meet the family members of the victim girls at a community hall in Umbre. It was around 10:30 pm or so then. The family members of the girls arrived but some other 30-35 villagers also arrived. They wanted to discuss the issue before any complaint got registered.
Suddenly after an hour or so, the Local Crime Branch Police (LCB) team reached the spot and began targeting the villagers. Someone might have given them the tip. Further without asking or knowing anything about the matter, the LCB members began hitting with the sticks. They could specifically be seen targeting the members of the local Hindu organization. We were just there to help the victim girls and we wanted nothing else. But the brutal beatings continued. Later the villagers dispersed and the police took 7-8 of us Hindu members in the custody.
This continued for next 2 hours. The police initially took away 8 persons but came back to see post midnight if anyone was still there at the community hall. In the second round more 4 were arrested. I was not arrested till then as I was hiding in the place with a minor boy of one of the villagers who was left alone after the crowd dispersed from the community hall. He was scared and I was protecting him as he was left alone after the LCB arrived at the spot. However, I was caught by the LCB who came there for the third time to ensure that the hall was completely vacant. The minor boy was then escorted by the police and I was taken into the custody.
We all 13 were individually interrogated by the Police that night. And we all felt like we were being specifically targeted for belonging to the Hindu community. We were booked with others in an FIR which alleges that we created ruckus in the area around Masjid. How can that happen as we were not present at the spot when the probable ruckus happened? The incident around Masjid happened at around 8:30 pm or before and we reached Umbre at 10 pm or so. We were tortured and also abused inside,” Suhas (named changed) said.
CCTV destroyed; medical reports say Hindu members were beaten on July 27 (the day of arrest)
Earlier, it was reported that the incident of brutal police charge on Hindu members at the community hall was recorded in the CCTV footage and the same was destroyed. The issue was also raised by BJP MLA Prasad Lad in the Maharashtra Legislative Council who sought strict action against the local officers who allegedly filed false police cases against the Hindu persons.
OpIndia obtained the medical test report of one of the 13 Hindu persons who was granted bail on August 1. The report reveals that the Hindu person was brutally beaten by the police at the community hall as a result of which he has now been diagnosed with severe breathlessness and chest pain.
Rahuri Police says ‘democracy gives right to speak’, comments zero on presence, arrest of 13 Hindu persons
Rahuri Police Inspector Dhananjay Jadhav was also reached by the team for a special comment on the case. Jadhav confirmed that “the 13 have been given bail but the investigation in the case is underway and the truth will soon come out.”
When asked whether the ‘allegations’ put forth by the 13 arrested, now bailed Hindu persons are true, Jadhav stated, “Democracy has given right and freedom to speak to everyone. Nobody can stop them from saying what they want to say. Police works as per the law. They were named in the FIR so we had to take action against them. That’s it.”
Further on specifically asking whether the 13 Hindu persons were actually present in Umbre when the ruckus around Masjid happened, the PI said, “Nothing can be commented on that now. Whether they were the part of the villagers mob who created ruckus around the Masjid or not will be decided in and by the Court. It’s all the part of an ongoing investigation which cannot be revealed at present.”
Tuition teacher Heena groomed the girls to behave like Muslims
It is fact to reiterate that the 13 Hindu persons were part of 25 identified individuals who have been booked by one Salim Pathan who himself is accused of threatening Hindu minor girls and forced conversion. Pathan said in the FIR that the 25 persons created ruckus in the Masjid and pelted stones at his shop.
On the other hand, three minor Hindu girls have filed cases against Avej Sheikh and tuition teacher Heena, ‘friends’ Alisha, Kaif, Sohail, villagers Altaf, Shakir and Salim Pathan for forcing them to convert their religion to Islam. The girls in three different FIRs stated that they were threatened to make friendship and be into a relationship by Avej.
As reported earlier, tuition teacher Heena Pathan introduced the girls to Avej and his friends saying that he was her relative. The boys then trapped the girls on Instagram and threatened the girls to be into a relationship. Heena meanwhile trained the girls to behave like Muslims, stop following Hindu way of life. The teacher also forced the girls to wear burqa and tried to imbibe on their minds that Islam is the best religion of all.
Victim girls confirm ‘Hindu members had come to help, were wrongfully arrested’
One of the girls specifically talked to OpIndia and confirmed that the 13 Hindu persons had come that day to help them but were badly beaten by the police. Calling the Hindu persons her ‘brothers’, the minor girl stated that none of those arrested were at fault. “The Hindu brothers had come to help us. They did nothing. But the Police charged them and arrested them. Why have they been arrested when not at all at fault? This is totally wrong,” the one of the victim girls stated.
Meanwhile it was revealed earlier that around 7-8 Hindu minor girls from the tuition of Heena Sheikh were trapped and threatened by accused Avej Sheikh. Sources further informed that the parents of the one of the minor victim girls were made to wait for hours before registering the FIR against the 8 accused. The girls were teased, tortured and touched inappropriately by accused Avej who has now been arrested. He would also demand money from them. As reported previously, many people from the community of the accused in Umbre knew about the activities of Avej and were ready to give money and shelter to him if he would run away with any of the Hindu minor girls.
After the incident got exposed, the Gram Panchayat of Umbre had decided to not send their girl students to school given the severity of the incident. “We won’t send our girls to school from now onwards. All the parents in the village have decided that no girl will go to school unless the administration assures the security of our children. We all are terrified by the incident and are concerned about the safety and security of our girls. Our girls will do domestic chores instead and survive for their life if this is what they have to face at the places of education,” the official letter obtained by OpIndia had read.
However, the girls and the villagers confirmed that the issue of not sending the girl students to schools has now been resolved after several Ministers raised the issue in the State Council. Also, the victim girls though scared have resumed their school routines. The villagers and the girls at present are scared and demand strict action against all the accused.
NCPCR, IHRC takes cognizance
Notably, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has taken suo-moto cognizance of the incident and has said that thorough investigation will be done in the case. Also, one Pune-based Indian Human Rights Council (IHRC) has formed a 5-member committee to look into the case.
I will visit Ahmadnagar to inquire into the case. https://t.co/Gkjt6XjHl9
— प्रियंक कानूनगो Priyank Kanoongo (@KanoongoPriyank) July 31, 2023
Hindu JanAkrosh Morcha organized on August 5
In the recent months, several cases of assault on Hindu women and specific cases of Love jihad, conversion have been reported from Rahuri and other parts of the Ahmednagar district.
Enraged by the incidents, the local Hindu organizations have scheduled to organize a ‘Hindu Janakrosh Morcha’ in Rahuri on August 5. The Hindu groups demand justice for the Hindu minor girls who have become the victims of religious torture and forced conversion at the hands of tuition teacher and her ‘relative’.
In all, four FIRs have been filed in the case, copies of all of which have been obtained by OpIndia. Also, all the relevant video documents and audio files supporting this read have been obtained. Please read earlier reports regarding this case here and here.