Lucknow : Police have arrested over a dozen for converting a woman to Islam and three for trying to convince people to accept Christianity.
In Etah, eight people have been arrested on the charges of forcible conversion of a 21-year-old girl and then getting her married.
In Azamgarh, three other people were arrested under the new state law.
The case under the new anti-conversion law was filed on Thursday in Jalesar in Etah following a complaint filed by the woman's father, a businessman.
"Fourteen people, including the eight on Tuesday, have been arrested so far. Three police teams are trying to find the woman, and arrest the absconder." Deputy Superintendent of Police Ram Niwas Singh said.
The woman has been missing since November 17. Her family filed a case last Thursday when they received a letter from Javed's lawyer, informing them about the woman's conversion and the subsequent marriage in a court, according to police.
The case was registered under IPC section 366 (kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her for marriage) and under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020.
Javed is on the run after allegedly 'kidnapping and unlawfully converting' a Hindu woman to Islam. Eight of his relatives were booked and arrested on Tuesday.
The eight accused, including a woman, were arrested from near the Agra crossing, says a statement by Etah police.
A police spokesman said that the arrests were meant to 'create pressure' on the absconding couple to surrender.
Police believed the woman was somewhere in Delhi, while Javed was still in Uttar Pradesh, constantly changing his location.
"Javed and his four close relatives are still absconding," a police officer said, hinting at arresting them soon.
A reward of Rs 25,000 on each of the five men has also been announced.
Javed runs a cloth shop and is a neighbour of the woman.
In Azamgarh, the police have arrested Balchandra, Gopal Prajapati and Neeraj Kumar for organizing a meeting and convincing people to convert to Christianity.
Deedarganj station house officer Sanjay Kumar Singh said the three men came to the village and allegedly organised a meeting at Tribhuvan Yadav's home to convert people to Christianity.
A villager, Ashok Yadav, informed police leading to the arrests under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, he said.
No person shall convert, either directly or indirectly from one religion to another by use or practice of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage nor shall any person abet, convince or conspire such conversion, the ordinance mainly envisages.
The onus to prove the forcible conversion charges wrong will lie on the accused.
Raj Kumar Kashyap, a social worker in Azamgarh, alleged the police as going overboard with the anti-conversion laws.
"In Azamgarh, the three who have been arrested were addressing a meeting and had not forced any conversion. Preaching about any religion is not a crime - not as yet," he said.
IANS report with edits