Police say Maulana Kaleem Siddiqui held for running India’s largest ‘religious conversion syndicate’
NEW DELHI (AA) – Police in the Indian northern state of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday arrested Islamic scholar Maulana Kaleem Siddiqui on charges of alleged religious conversions, said a police statement on Wednesday.
Siddiqui, a well-known Muslim scholar in India, is the president of Jamiat-e-Waliullah and Global Peace Center.
“On the basis of credible inputs, the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested Maulana Kaleem Siddiqui on Sept. 21 from Meerut in connection with running India’s largest religious conversion syndicate. Six teams of ATS have been formed to investigate this case,” said the statement.
The statement also said Siddiqui used to run Jamiat-e-Waliullah trust that funds several madrassas (religious schools) for which he received huge foreign funding.
“Maulana Kaleem Siddiqui’s trust received Rs30,000,000 ($406,155) in foreign funding, including Rs15,000,000 ($203,077) from Bahrain,” added the statement.
Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Amanatullah Khan said Siddiqui was arrested in view of the provincial elections slated to be held early next year in Uttar Pradesh.
“Maulana Kalim Siddiqui, a famous Islamic scholar, has been arrested before the elections in Uttar Pradesh, atrocities on Muslims are increasing. The silence of secular parties on these issues is giving more strength to the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). How much will the BJP fall to win UP election?,” said Amanatullah Khan in a tweet.
India’s most populous Uttar Pradesh state, which goes to polls early next year, is ruled by the Hindu monk Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
In June this year, police arrested two Muslim religious leaders on charges of converting Hindus to Islam. One of them, Mohammad Umar Gautam, was born as a Hindu and converted to Islam in 1984.
According to the police, Gautam and Mufti Qazi Jahangir Alam Qasmi were converting deaf and dumb students and people from weaker income groups to Islam by luring them with money, jobs, and the promise of arranging their marriages.