Mohammad Umar Gautam is an Islamic scholar and the founder of the Islamic Da’wah Centre (IDC). Born in Uttar Pradesh’s Fatehpur in a Hindu family and converted to Islam in 1984. Uttar Pradesh’s Anti Terror Squad arrested Umar Gautam in connection with the alleged ‘forced religious conversion racket.’
Life and Activism
Gautam was deeply religious before his conversion to Islam. In 1984, Gautam’s friend Nasir Khan helped Umar in visiting the temple on his cycle. When asked about his gesture, Nasir told Umar that his religion preaches Haqooq (taking care of his social circle). Shyam Prasad Singh Gautam changed his name to Mohammad Umar Gautam and declared his conversion after reading Quran, Bible and other religious scriptures. He worked and lived in Delhi with his wife Razia and in 2010 founded his Islamic Da’wah Centre. IDC is a charitable institution that actively participated in financially assisting the people who convert to Islam. The institution doesn’t play a role in conversion. Rather it confines itself to formalizing the religion. The appeal note of IDC claims to support the converts morally, educationally, and socially.
Circumstances of arrest
Umar was arrested in 2021 when the Indian sub-continent was ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. The story begins with the disappearance of Abdul Manan and Aditya Gupta. The Anti Terror Squad (ATS) initiated the investigation in what they call the “mass conversion racket.” The ATS alleged that Umar was involved in ‘forceful conversions’ luring Hindus from the weaker sections to convert to Islam. According to UP ATS, Umar is a part of a larger conspiracy of conversion to change the ‘demography’ turning the small pockets into “radical Islamic spaces.” However, Umar and his organisation IDC are known to assist the converts with the legal documents making their acceptance into the folds of Islam official. On the forceful conversion, his neighbour suggests that “food and conversion can’t be forced down the throat.”
Charges and allegations
Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, etc and Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion along with other charges under relevant sections of IPC.
Umar has been granted bail in the Fatehpur case. However, three more criminal cases are pending against him including the Anti-Terror Squad Lucknow case.