UP conversion racket: Another Maharashtra resident detained, “was in contact with key accused”

The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) arrested another person on Friday for his alleged involvement in a conversion racket, bringing the total number of arrests to 14.

The arrested man has been identified as Dheeraj Jagtap aka Dheeraj Deshmukh (44), a resident of Yavtmal district in Maharashtra. Jagtap, who adopted Islam a year ago, was arrested in Kanpur and taken to the ATS office in Lucknow, after which he was arrested.

Police unearthed the alleged racketeering in June with the arrest of “main defendant” Umar Gautam. Later, five other residents of Maharashtra, including Rameshwar Kaware alias Adam, Bhupriya Bando alias Arsalan Mustafa and Kausar Alam, were arrested.

Jagtap would be produced in a local court in Lucknow, a police officer said.

Police said Jagtap would work with Kaware, Bando and Alam. He used to trick people into promising them jobs or any other kind of help as well as using fear.

Police said during the preliminary investigation they discovered that Jagtap was also working with “main defendants” Umar Gautam and Kaleem Siddiqui.

To promote the conversion, police said Jagtap had formed three WhatsApp groups – “Revert, Rehab and Dawah” – where people were drawn to embrace Islam. Fundamentalist messages have been shared on these groups by Jagtap and others, the officer quoted above said. Jagtap was one of the main members of a group called the Islamic Youth Federation led by Dr Faraz Shah, who was arrested in August by ATS.