LUCKNOW: A prominent Meerut cleric, who ran multiple Islamic trusts across north India and used these as a garb to operate the country’s biggest illegal conversion syndicate for 30 years, was arrested by UP Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) on Wednesday. The accused, Maulana Kaleem Siddiqui, 62, received mammoth funds from abroad, particularly Gulf nations, through hawala transactions, said ATS sources.
Siddiqui worked closely with the kingpin Umar Gautam and his accomplice Mufti Kazi Jahangir Qasmi, who were arrested in June. “We unearthed over Rs 1.5crore illegally routed through Bahrain and Rs 3crore from other Gulf nations. These transactions were in violation of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act,” said additional director general of police, law and order, Prashant Kumar.
The Islamic Dawah Centre in Jamia Nagar, Delhi, continued to be the nerve centre, where the cleric would steer his illegal missionary work with Umar and Mufti Qasmi. And his Shah Waliullah Trust in Delhi was the key front for routing hawala money.
Siddiqui’s other trusts in Delhi and Haryana included Global Peace Centre and Peace Mission (Mustafabad), Madrassa Sabeel-us-Salam (Jamia Nagar), Dawat-e-Islam Trust (DEIT), Mewat, and World Peace Organisation. His illegal missionary activity straddled Rajasthan, MP, UP, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Haryana and Orissa, ATS sources said.
Inspector general of police, ATS, Gajendra Kumar Goswamy, who has been leading the probe, said, “A UK-based organization, Al-Fala Trust, has been identified as another big source of funds. More than Rs 57 crore was received by the cleric’s Shah Waliullah Trust. And Umar Gautam’s Al-Hasan Educational and Welfare Foundation was similarly funded. The cleric ploughs in the ill-gotten money into madrasas across north India and motivates people to embrace Islam through monetary allurements and instilling fear of ‘jahannam’ or hellfire in afterlife if they didn’t follow Islam.”
The family of Siddiqui, who originally hails from Phulat in Muzaffarnagar, also play a crucial role in the conversion racket. After completing his primary education from a madrasa in Phulat, he pursued intermediate studies in science from Pickett Inter College, Khatauli. Later, he graduated in science from Meerut College and cracked the PMT entrance exam. However, he gave up being a doctor and enrolled himself in Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow.
The anti-terror squad busted the Nagpur syndicate and nabbed Rameshwar Kawre alias Adam, Kaushar Alam and Bhuriya Bando alias Arslan Mustafa. Others in the police net include kingpin Umar Gautam, his accomplice Mufti Kazi Jahangir Qasmi, Noida sign language interpreter Irfan Sheikh, Munna Yadav and Rahul Bhola.
Cleric in judicial custody till October 5:
Special judge of NIA-ATS, Y R Gupta, on Wednesday sent Meerut cleric Kaleem Siddiqui in judicial custody till October 5 for his alleged role in running a religious conversion syndicate. The court summoned the accused from prison on Thursday on the ATS plea for his police remand. Till date, ATS has arrested 10 accused, including the kingpin Umar Gautam from different parts of the country and forwarded a chargesheet against six. The probe against four accused is pending. Sub-inspector Vinod Kumar had lodged an FIR in this case with ATS police station on June 20.