UP govt forms SIT to probe ‘religious conversion’ complaint against senior IAS officer

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September 28, 2021 8:12 PM

In one of the purported videos, the UPSRTC chairman is seen sitting with a group of men, apparently clerics, and is heard saying that it is their duty to spread Islam to every home.

In one of the purported videos, the UPSRTC chairman is seen sitting with a group of men, apparently clerics, and is heard saying that it is their duty to spread Islam to every home. (Representational Image)

The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday set up a special investigation team (SIT) to look into allegations that senior IAS officer Mohammad Iftikharuddin was seen in viral videos attending an event related to religious conversion. Iftikharuddin is currently the Chairman of the Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation.

In one of the purported videos, the UPSRTC chairman is seen sitting with a group of men, apparently clerics, and is heard saying that it is their duty to spread Islam to every home.

In a related video, the 1985-batch IAS officer is seen sitting at a gathering where another man is talking allegedly in a provocative manner about the merits of converting to Islam. The videos were said to be taken at the camp office-cum-official residence of the official when he was the Kanpur divisional commissioner in between 2014 to 2017. Iftikharuddin, who is currently posted in state capital Lucknow, when confronted by a TV channel scribe first denied being present at the gathering but later admitted that he was present there.

“What did I say wrong? I have been misinterpreted,” he told the reporter in Hindi. Taking a serious note of the matter, the government has ordered a probe by the SIT, an official said.

The team will be headed by DG CB-CID G L Meena and ADG Bhanu Bhaskar will be its member. It will send its report to the government in seven days, the official said. National Vice President of ‘Math Mandir Samanvai Samiti’ Bhupesh Awasthi has made a written complaint with the state government against the IAS officer and submitted copies of the videos. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, who was on a visit to the district and neighbouring Unnao on Monday, said the inquiry was instituted into the matter when his attention was drawn to the videos.

Meanwhile, Kanpur police Commissioner Asim Arun told PTI that the investigation to verify the authenticity of the videos has been handed to ADCP East, Somedra Meena. “It is being investigated whether the video is authentic,” he said.

A few months back, UP enacted a law to curb conversion through force or deceit. In recent days, the state police have made several arrests, including in Delhi, in connection with an alleged conversion racket. The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) had on Sunday arrested three men in connection with alleged religious conversions.

The ATS had said while two were residents of Muzaffarnagar in UP, the third one hailed from Nashik in Maharashtra. Regarding the controversial videos being shared on social media platforms, Minister of Law and Justice Brajesh Pathak said the government has taken cognizance of the videos and given instructions for investigation.

The place where the IAS officer is sitting and preaching seems to be a government property which is not at all appropriate legally or constitutionally, Pathak said. The state government is particularly strict on the matter of religious conversion, Pathak said, adding: “We have even made a strict law regarding that. We will take strict action against anyone who tries to convert people using force or any kind of lure”.

Bithoor BJP MLA Abhijeet Singh Sanga termed the incident as a matter of serious concern and went on to call the IAS officer a “literate Aurangzeb”. “I would ask Kanpur divisional commissioner Raj Shekhar to purify the commissioner camp office compound with “gangajal” obtained from Bithoor,” Sanga told PTI.

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