Four Muslims youth in Bharaich have been booked and one arrested for allegedly posting derogatory remarks in social media on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
The FIR was lodged on Thursday by one Gaurav Gupta against Rana Sultan Javed, Zeeshan Javed, Haroon Khan, Khan Shafiq and King Khan at city police station in Bahraich, PTI quoted Additional SP Ajay Pratap Singh as saying. The five boys had allegedly posted the comments on Facebook on Wednesday, after which local residents held a protest and demanded that the police register a complaint. They have been booked under IT Act.
This is not the first time when someone has been arrested for social media postings against Adityanath. In April 2017, Zakir Ali Tyagi of Muzaffarnagar was arrested under Section 66-A (IT Act) and spent 40 days in jail for his comments on Adityanath's speech.
Speaking with Newsclick, Mohammad Masna, father of Mohammad Yaseen Khan, who was running his Facebook account in the name of ‘King Khan’, said, "My son used to help me at the dairy milk shop and has a clean track record. Rana Javed made some objectionable photo of Adityanath and posted on Facebook, my son Yaseen commented there and police arrested him for a comment. Police arrested him on Thursday evening when I had gone to attend a relative’s funeral,” he said, adding that the police did not inform him or anyone at home before arresting his son.
Masna further added, "It is old case but I don't know why they have arrested him now. It is clear cut case that we are being targeted for being Muslims. I have applied for his bail but it was rejected as the court asked for his 'previous criminal record',” he said, adding that Yaseen has no history of crime.
Prem Prakash Pandey, Kotwali Nagar, Bahraich Inspector, who is investigating the case told Newsclick that Mohammad Yaseen had been arrested under Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 153 (a), 295 (a) and 66 IT Act
Not long back, Newsclick had reported that the Uttar Pradesh police had slapped serious charges like sedition on some Muslim youth who aired their criticism of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's alleged role in the Babri Masjid demolition.
After Vajpayee's Death, Those Critical of Him Have Landed in Jail in UP
In a similar case, on August 17, in Bihar’s Motihari, a mob almost lynched Sanjay Kumar, assistant professor of Mahatma Gandhi Central University (MGCU). The mob severely beat him up, and was about to burn him alive, when his friends and the police managed to save him just in the nick of time. There are several cases where people have either been beaten or faced serious charges for writing against BJP, RSS and it increasing day by day.
Reacting to the rising instances of arrests over Facebook posts, Abdul Hafiz Gandhi, Samajwadi Party (SP) spokesperson, said, "Criticising government is not a crime. Criticism is well protected in the Indian Constitution. The right to dissent is the right of citizens. So, arresting people for dissenting from the government is unconstitutional. There cannot be a single narrative or perspective of things. Having different narratives about the same thing is the beauty and government of the day must realise this. We as a party stand for Constitutional rights of people and oppose strongly the arrests being made for writing their views on social media."
Is Bahraich on Govt’s Radar?
Muslim youth in Bahraich have been at the government’s receiving end since October’s communal classes. So far, nearly 200 youth have been booked under serious laws, such as UAPA.
On October 20, during the Durga idol procession in Bahraich district, an alleged communal clash took place when few people throw colour inside the mosque. Nearly 200 Muslims have been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Fearing arrest after the FIR, several Muslim families have fled the village. Police has raided, threatened, ransacked and damaged the households of Muslims.
'Nearly 200 Muslim Youth Booked Under UAPA After Bahraich Clashes'
A fact-finding team of human rights organisation, United Against Hate, which had them visited the area, said that the Police Superintendent of Bahraich district told them that a section of UAPA was erroneously used in the October 20 FIRs against Muslims youth. Newsclick is following the case and will update readers soon.