The Uttar Pradesh police have arrested a boy under the new anti-conversion law that targets inter-faith marriages, accusing him of ‘love jihad’. The boy and his 16-year-old female friend, a Dalit Hindu girl, were ambushed by the UP police when they were returning home from a friend’s birthday party in the Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh.

Even though the 16-year-old Hindu girl and her mother have both denied accusations of the boy trying to forcibly convert the girl, the boy, a Muslim, has been locked behind bars for over a week.

The boy was arrested on December 15 after a complaint by the father of the girl, who alleged that the boy tried to persuade the girl to elope and force her to convert.

While speaking to the media, however, the girl denied the allegations of ‘love jihad’ in the case. The term ‘love jihad’ is used by right-wing groups to allege that Muslim men get into relationships with Hindu girls with the sole intention of converting them to Islam.

The police claim that the girl had been missing for days and according to a senior police officer in Bijnor, she “managed to escape.”

These claims have, however, been disputed by the girl’s village chief Vinod Saini. He told the media, “The police seem to have made up a case, there was no ‘love jihad’ involved. The girl’s parents told me she had gone to a birthday party. The boy and she knew each other.”

Bijnor Police put out a tweet to justify the incident. The tweet read, “The case was filed based on a complaint by the father of the girl, her statement has been recorded before a magistrate. The accused has been arrested on the basis of other evidence too.”

Arrests made under the state’s new law have been highly controversial, with cases of the police stopping weddings and harassing newlyweds.

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