UP Police bust conversion racket; accused used online gaming to trap youth
The Uttar Pradesh Police have busted a conversion racket that was being operated through a gaming app for the past few years.
The probe began after the father of a minor boy from Faridabad complained to police that his son had come in contact with a person via a gaming app and was influenced by him to visit the mosque in Sanjay Nagar.
The father had recently learned that his son was lying about going to the gym and was visiting the mosque instead for prayers.
A member of a mosque committee in Sanjay Nagar in Ghaziabad has been arrested for his alleged role in the religious conversion of at least four youths.
Police have identified him as Abdul Rehman, who is originally from Ballia. The mosque committee has told the cops that Rehman had quit the panel a few months ago but is yet to submit any proof of the claim.
On May 30, the Imam of a mosque and Thane resident, Khan Shahnawaz a.k.a. Baddo, was booked after an investigation was initiated into the conversion racket.
Nipurn Aggarwal, DCP (city), said that they had evidence to prove Rehman tried to convert four youths – two from Ghaziabad, one from Faridabad, and another from Chandigarh.
“We have learned that he was talking to the four youths since 2021 and was sending them videos about religion,” the officer said.
Abhishek Srivastava, ACP (Kavi Nagar), said the Faridabad boy had come in contact with the three other youths and Rehman through a gaming app. They had shared their phone numbers with Rehman, who allegedly started preaching to them about Islam. Two of the youths were in contact with Baddo too.
“We have questioned the boy from Faridabad and learned that he and the others were in contact with Rehman through a gaming app since 2021. His mother witnessed a change in his behaviour and tried to counsel him, but to no avail,” the ACP said.
One of the youths from Ghaziabad, police said, had met Baddo after losing his parents during the second wave of Covid in 2021.
“After his parents died, he himself tested positive. The Imam reached out to him and made him believe that his prayers had cured him of the virus. The youth – a minor then – started watching some YouTube videos on Islam and was drawn to the sermons. He started visiting the mosque often. His sister once saw him offering namaz and informed the parents. The youth was then counselled,” Srivastava said.
It was at the Sanjay Nagar Mosque that the boy met another youth from the NCR city. He, too, was persuaded to convert his religion, the police said.
Srivastava said the mosque committee had told them Rehman was not a member of the board anymore. “They do not have any proof. They, however, removed Rehman from the mosque committee’s WhatsApp group on June 2 after the FIR was lodged in the conversion row,” he added.
[With Inputs from IANS]
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