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Prophet jibe: ‘Balancing’ charge after Delhi police's parallel FIR

Owaisi alleges force lacks courage to pursue cases against the likes of Nupur Sharma and Narasinghanand without implicating a group of Muslims as well
Nupur Sharma.
Nupur Sharma.
File photo

Imran Ahmed Siddiqui   |   New Delhi   |   Published 10.06.22, 02:09 AM

Delhi police have booked Nupur Sharma for hate speech but simultaneously charged AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, monk Yati Narasinghanand Saraswati and a host of Muslim social media users in a parallel FIR, attracting allegations of “balance-waad to assuage BJP supporters”.

Owaisi slammed the police for “both-sideism or balance-waad”, alleging the force lacked the courage to pursue cases against the likes of Sharma and Narasinghanand — accused of advocating genocide against Muslims — without implicating a group of Muslims as well.

“One side has openly insulted our Prophet while the other side” has merely made “random posts on social media” and “has been named to assuage BJP supporters & make it look like there was hate speech on both sides,” the Hyderabad MP tweeted.

A police statement on Thursday said a hate-speech case had been registered on Wednesday against Sharma – suspended as BJP national spokesperson after making derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammed on TV – but did not cite specifics.

It added that a second case had been registered against certain social media users “for inciting people on divisive lines”.

Those named are Owaisi, the expelled Delhi BJP spokesperson Navin Kumar Jindal --- who had denigrated the Prophet on social media --- Narasinghanand, journalist Saba Naqvi, Hindu Mahasabha office-bearer Pooja Shakun Pandey, Maulana Mufti Nadeem from Rajasthan, Shadab Chauhan, Abdur Rehman, Gulzar Ansari and Anil Kumar Meena.

The specific posts that brought on the bookings have not been mentioned -– a point underlined by Owaisi. Most of the accused are not public figures.

There have been calls for the arrest of Sharma, who was suspended by the BJP 10 days after her remarks following a backlash from West Asia. But neither the police statement nor senior officers said anything about possible arrests on the basis of the FIRs.

Earlier this week, the Delhi police provided security to Sharma and her family and registered an FIR on a complaint that she had received death threats over her remarks on Prophet Mohammed.

The Delhi police, who report to the Union home ministry, have often been accused of bias in dealing with cases of communal violence or hate speech.

The force had in April told the Supreme Court that no calls for genocide had been sounded against Muslims at a “Hindu Vahini” event in December --- where a video purportedly shows participants pledging to “fight, die for and kill” to establish a “Hindu Rashtra”.

The Delhi minorities commission has accused the police of arresting Muslim victims of the February 2020 riots rather than those they had accused of violence.

Owaisi on Thursday said that “hate speeches” of “dharam gurus with close links to ruling party” were being “equated to random posts on social media with no social or political standing”.

“Delhi police were probably trying to think of a way of registering an FIR against these people without offending Hindutvadi fanboy/ girls,” he added.

Sharing a screenshot of excerpts from what he claimed was a copy of the FIR, he tweeted: “This is the first FIR I’ve seen that’s not specifying what the crime is…. I don’t know which specific remarks of mine have attracted the FIR.”

He added: “It appears Delhi police lacks the courage to pursue cases against Yati, Nupur Sharma & Navin Jindal etc. This is why the delayed & weak response. In fact Yati has violated his bail conditions repeatedly by inciting genocide against Muslims & insulting Islam.

Narasinghanand, addressing a Dharma Sansad in Haridwar last December, had allegedly urged Hindus to take up weapons against Muslims to establish a “Hindu Rashtra”.

While Uttarakhand police booked several of the speakers at the event on hate-speech charges, acting belatedly under public and media pressure, Narasinghanand was charged with the less punitive offence of insulting Muslim women.

Out on bail, the monk in April participated in a Hindu Mahapanchayat in Delhi where hate speeches were made against Muslims. He was booked but not arrested.

A recent social media video purportedly shows Narasinghanand announcing he would go to the Jama Masjid in Delhi and defend Sharma’s comments. This is likely to be the basis for his booking in Wednesday’s second FIR.

A Delhi police tweet said: “We have registered 2 FIRs under appropriate sections on the basis of social media analysis against those trying to disrupt public tranquillity & inciting people on divisive lines. One pertains to Ms Nupur Sharma & other against multiple social media entities (users).”

The police said notices would be sent to the social media intermediaries (companies) for details.

Both cases have been registered under penal sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class), and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief).

Deputy commissioner (cyber cell) K.P.S. Malhotra said: “The FIR is against multiple individuals from different religions. We are investigating the role of various social media entities in promoting false and wrong information with an intention to create unrest.”

Owaisi said people like Narasinghanand, Sharma and Jindal had delivered hate speeches with impunity, with “weak action” taken only in the face of “international condemnation or when courts pulled up the police”.

In contrast, he said, Muslim students, journalists and activists had been put behind bars merely for being Muslim.

Owaisi said he would not be intimidated, and went on to castigate Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

“Hindutva organisations have a culture where hate speech & extremism is rewarded with promotions. Yogi’s hate was rewarded with Lok Sabha seats and CMship…. Modi’s hate speeches were similarly rewarded,” he said.

“If Modi were sincere he would have stamped out hate speech without indulging in fake balance-waad. Let genocidal hate speakers be put in prison under non-bailable draconian laws rather than getting promotions.”

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