Delhi HC grants protection to woman hounded for converting to Islam
Delhi High Court on Thursday granted interim protection till July 5 to a woman who has claimed that she and her family were facing life threats and being subjected to a witch-hunt by Uttar Pradesh police, media and vigilante groups after her wilful conversion from Hinduism to Islam.
Justice C. Hari Shankar asked Delhi police to take appropriate steps to protect the woman till a regular bench heard the matter, noting that the petitioner was a young woman who had expressed apprehension regarding her security.
“While putting the matter before the regular bench for July 5, I deem it appropriate to issue limited direction to the respondents 1 and 2 (the Delhi police commissioner and the station house office of Jamia Nagar police station) to take appropriate steps to protect the life and liberty of the petitioner till the matter is taken up by the regular bench on July 5,” the vacation bench said.
The manner in which the protection is to be given is left to Delhi police, the bench said, making it clear that the court was not expressing any view on the correctness of the claims made in the petition.
During the hearing, advocate Sameer Vashisht, representing Delhi police, submitted that officers had been unable to contact the woman, Renu Gangwar alias Ayesha Alvi, because she was not found residing at the address given in the petition and her mobile phone was switched off.
Advocate Tanya Agarwal, representing Alvi, said her client had to frequently change her home because of apprehensions and added she would email her current address to the counsel for the police.
Alvi, who hails from Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, works in Delhi. She has sought protection for her and her family as also safeguarding her right to privacy, saying she and her family are being targeted because of her conversion and malicious content is being published in the media, which should be stopped immediately.
“The petitioner (woman) is an adult and she is protected by the Constitution to choose her own faith and she cannot be targeted and harassed for the choice she makes with regard to the religion she follows,” said the petition, filed through advocate Kamlesh Kumar Mishra and Nitin Kumar Nayak.
The plea said Alvi converted to Islam on May 27 in Delhi. Since June 23, when she was in Shahjahanpur, she started getting calls from mediapersons requesting a meeting, which she refused.
It said the journalists came to her place without permission and took her photographs and videos. Soon she started getting calls demanding money and threatening that the news of her conversion would be published in the media and she would be arrested, the petition said.
Thereafter, one of them forcibly took Rs 20,000 while others tried to extort money from her and her family, the plea alleged, adding that absurd and imaginary details were being reported in the media regarding her conversion.
Alva said she had filed a complaint with the Delhi police commissioner on June 24 seeking immediate intervention for her protection but no action was taken.