Calcutta HC orders CBI-NIA probe in Malda's religious conversion case
The Calcutta High Court has ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation and the National Investigation Agency to investigate an alleged forced conversion case in West Bengal's Malda district. In a writ petition to the court, two women alleged that their spouses, brothers by relation, were punished by forceful conversion into Islam for working for a political party that lost the 2021 West Bengal election.
The plaintiffs, who are also sisters, claimed that their husbands had been missing since November 24 of last year. When the women went to the police station to file a complaint, a civic volunteer reportedly ripped up their complaint and claimed that both of their spouses had converted to Islam. They then filed a complaint with Malda's superintendent, who also reportedly did nothing.
Meanwhile, state counsel Md Galib argued in court that the petitioners' husbands had left them due to family disputes and were now living in Pratappur, Malda. He claimed that two men voluntarily converted to Islam while refusing to even return home. The counsel also informed the court that both men have given their testimony under Section 164 that they converted to Islam voluntarily.
Following the hearing of both parties, Justice Rajshekhar Mantha's single bench ordered Malda's SP to give the CBI and NIA their full support in the case. The court also ordered the agencies to investigate other allegations made by the petitioners, including random forcible conversion, cross-border infiltration, threats and intimidation, and the storage of massive amounts of arms and ammunition, as well as counterfeit currency.
"Since the NIA and the CBI are the party respondents to the instant proceeding, appropriate inputs may be given from their side as regards the allegations made in the writ petition," Justice Rajasekhar Mantha stated in his order.
According to the court order, these allegations "may not be directly at issue to the claim of the writ petitioners but appear vitally linked to the allegations of abduction and forcible conversion of the petitioners' husbands."
The court also ordered the Superintendent of Police of the Malda district to submit an affidavit detailing the petitioners' allegations, the police's actions, any preliminary investigation report, and any other relevant information. Justice Mantha stated that the authorities should conduct a security check on the petitioners since they face significant life threats. The next date for the case's hearing is set for June 21.