On October 3, a man identified as Bhupendra Shukla, a resident of the Neechi Mangli area that falls under Ishwar Nagar Police Station under Focal Police Station in Ludhiana, made a video alleging a group of Muslim men were threatening his family to convert. He also alleged that they offered him Rs. 2 lakh for the same. When he refused, the group that is associated with a dargah allegedly attacked him. He further claimed that the group looted his shop and took away valuables.
Shukla originally hails from district Gonda, Uttar Pradesh. He has been living in Ludhiana for the past six years with his mother, wife and two children. His younger brother and sister also live with him. He works as a security guard and has a small make-shift shop that is run managed by his mother and sister.
The video was recorded by him at his shop. In the video, he was heard saying, “I have filed a complaint to Police as well. Please circulate this video so that someone from Hindu groups can help me.” According to the report published in Swarajya Mag, several activists met Shukla the same week.
‘They offered me money if I convert to Islam’
Shukla said he never faced such an issue while living here, but for the past six months, a group of Muslim men from Sherpur Colony have been visiting the migrant Hindu families in his area. They try to lure Hindu families to convert to Islam and offer money in return. In the video, Shukla said, “I would like to know how much money these people have that they offer money to everyone if they convert.
According to Shukla, the group tells the Hindu families that everyone is converting to Islam, and they should do the same. They try to convince the families that Hindus do not have a support system, but if they convert and ask others to do so, they will become stronger.
Shukla said a group of eight men first came to him on September 30. They left after Shukla got angry. A day later, on October 2, they came back, but this time they indulged in violence. Shukla said, “They threw our stuff on the ground. They took away the beedi and matchboxes from the shop that amounted to at least 10,000 rupees. They also took Rs 5,000 cash that was kept inside. When I tried to record their video, they snatched my phone and took away that as well.”
One of the accused was identified by Shukla as Sirtaj Ali, who is the nephew of the caretaker of the Mitti Wale Baba Dargah. He said, “I do not recognise others as they all were wearing skull caps and sported long beards.”
‘Police did not act on my complaint’
While talking to Swarajya, Shukla said that the Police did not act on his complaint despite the fact that he had shared the information about the key accused in the case. He said that he had visited Ishwar Colony Police Station in Dhandari Kalan on October 3. They took the verbal complaint and sent him away.
On October 10, replying to Swarajya Mag’s Swati Goel tweet, Commissioner of Police Ludhiana replied that his department had taken cognisance of the matter and asked the concerned Police Station to resolve it at the earliest.
Shukla informed Swarajya that he got a call from a lady officer who asked her the reason behind taking the complaint to social media. “I replied that I would take the matter to the highest authorities. She told me to calm down and said that the Police would cooperate with him,” Shukla said. He further said that the lady officer promised to apprehend the person he had filed a complaint with soon. She told him he would have to come to Police Station for questioning once the main accused gets detained.
Police denied communal angle or forceful conversion
As per the report published in Hindi Daily Jagran, during the investigation, the Police found that it was not the case of forceful conversion but an old rivalry between the two groups. The report claimed that Shukla had uploaded another video apologising for the earlier statement.
contacted Jasbir Kaur, station in-charge, Ishwar Nagar Police Station, to learn more about the case. She said there was a complaint filed by Shukla at the station. During investigation, they found that the case was not about religious conversion but the rivalry between the two groups. Kaur categorically denied that Shukla was threatened or attacked as he refused to convert to Islam.