Delhi Police has registered two FIRs - one against former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and the other against 31 people, including AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi and controversial priest Yati Narsinghanand - for allegedly spreading hate and hurting religious sentiments, officials said on Thursday.
The two FIRs were registered on Wednesday after an analysis of social media, they said.
Former Delhi BJP media unit head Naveen Kumar Jindal, who was expelled from the party over alleged remarks against Prophet Mohammad, and journalist Saba Naqvi, are among the people named in the second FIR.
"The cases have been registered against those who were posting and sharing messages against the maintenance of public tranquility and were inciting people on the basis of divisive lines," a senior police officer said.
The cases have been registered under 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) of the Indian Penal Code, he said.
Reacting to the FIR, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Owaisi said that he will not be intimidated by these tactics, asserting that criticising hate speech and giving hate speeches cannot be equated.
Owaisi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that if he were sincere, he would have stamped out hate speech without indulging in "fake balance-vaad".
The AIMIM chief alleged that Delhi Police is suffering from "both sideism" or "balance-waad" syndrome. One side has openly insulted our Prophet while the other side has been named to assuage BJP supporters and make it look like there was hate speech on both sides, he said.
According to police, one case has been registered against Sharma and another against multiple social media entities, including Owaisi, Jindal, Narsinghanand, Shadab Chauhan, Saba Naqvi, Maulana Mufti Nadeem, Abdur Rehman and Gulzar Ansari, based on the analysis.
Notices will be sent to the social media intermediaries for the details, the police officer.
According to the FIR, 31 people named in it were also using hate-worthy languages intentionally or having complete knowledge that use of such type of language, claim and assertion is not only discriminatory but more than sufficient to create a situation of animosity amongst different groups of persons having faith in different religions.
This will certainly be a serious threat to public tranquility and maintenance of public order in our country wherein people have been living peacefully, it stated.
Transmission and publication of such language has been done through electronic media which are filthy in nature and appeals to prurient interest and sufficient to deprave and corrupt any person who see it or hears the objectionable words, the FIR said.
"We have registered two FIRs under appropriate sections on the basis of social media analysis against those trying to disrupt public tranquility and inciting people on divisive lines. One pertains to Ms Nupur Sharma and other against multiple social media entities, Delhi Police tweeted.
"Even as Notices are being sent to social media intermediaries for details of those behind these accounts/entities, #DelhiPolice appeals to everyone to desist from posting anything that may disrupt social and communal harmony," it added.
The FIRs have been registered by the Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operation (IFSO) unit of the Special Cell, police said.
On Wednesday, police said the unit would investigate the roles of various social media entities in promoting false and wrong information with an intention to create unrest on the cyber space, that have ramifications on the physical space thereby compromising with the social fabric of the country.
Earlier, Delhi Police had provided security to Sharma and her family after an FIR was registered on a complaint that she was getting death threats over her controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammad.
She had requested the police to provide security citing harassment and threats she had been receiving.
The BJP on June 5 had suspended Sharma and expelled its Delhi unit media head Jindal as the row over their alleged derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammad escalated with protests from many Muslim countries.
In a series of tweets, AIMIM chief Owaisi said that he will consult his lawyers and address it as and when required.
"I've received an excerpt of the FIR. This is the first FIR I've seen that's not specifying what the crime is. Imagine an FIR about a murder where cops don't mention the weapon or that the victim bled to death. I don't know which specific remarks of mine have attracted the FIR," Owaisi tweeted.
"It appears that Delhi Police lacks the courage to pursue cases against Yati, Nupur Sharma & Naveen Jindal, etc. This is why the delayed & weak response," he alleged.
The AIMIM chief alleged that in fact, controversial Yati has violated his bail conditions repeatedly by inciting genocide against Muslims and insulting Islam.
"Delhi Police were probably trying to think of a way of registering an FIR against these people without offending Hindutvadi fanboys/girls," he alleged.