Mahesh Trivedi | India Tomorrow
BHARUCH – If you wish to convert to Islam, and are in a tearing hurry to seek the mandatory permission from the authorities, hold your horses. The Bharatiya Janata Party-controlled Gujarat government will test your patience by playing the waiting game or leading you a merry dance.
Jignesh Patel, a 32-year-old of marketing executive in southern Bharuch town, had to wait for 14 months to just change his religion before the district collector gave his go-ahead last week. And that, too, only when he knocked at the doors of the High Court after waiting in the wings for one year.
On November 26, 2019, Patel, who liked the monotheistic religion and had been living like a Muslim for the past six years, had submitted his conversion application to the collector seeking his permission as mandated by the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act, 2008.
His lawyer M T Saiyad told indiatomorrow.net that his client had mentioned in the exhaustive application that he had been observing roza during Ramzan, offering namaz and also following other rituals associated with Islam since 2015, and also that he was neither under pressure from anyone for conversion nor he had been offered any allurement for the same.
He had also enclosed affidavits of his mother and sister stating that they had no objection to Jignesh becoming a practising Muslim. The application was also signed and supported by Imran Patel, a cleric who was to perform the conversion ceremony which Jignesh had fixed for January 1, 2020 in the hope of obtaining the all-important permission by then.
In February, 2020, even the sub-divisional magistrate’s inquiry report established that Jignesh was not under pressure to convert to Islam but he waited in vain for the collector’s green signal till, finally, after one year, he moved the Gujarat High Court on November 29, 2020.
Saiyad said that the state’s top court on December 10 last directed the district collector “to decide the petitioner’s application, in accordance with law, as expeditiously as possible, preferably within eight weeks.” The result was that the Bharuch collector last week gave his approval to Jignesh but while talking to this journalist blamed the delay on police department responsible for the verification process.