Bhopal: On the complaint of a Hindutva outfit, Madhya Pradesh police on Wednesday registered a case against Congress MLA Arif Masood and six others for giving inflammatory speech and promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion.
The Talaiya police have booked Congress MLA from Bhopal Central Arif Masood along with Shahwar Mansoori, Akeel Ur Rahman, Nayeem Khan, Mohammad Salar, Ikram Hasmi and Abdul Nayeem under section 153-A of the IPC (Non-bailable). They are accused of making inflammatory speeches during a rally, which took place at the historical Iqbal Maidan on October 29 against French President Emmanuel Macron’s alleged anti-Islamic statement. Macron had made the said statement after a controversial cartoon of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was published by French magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Following the registration of the FIR, Bhopal Municipal Corporation on Thursday afternoon demolished some buildings of Masood’s Indira Priyadarshani College, located in Khanugaon area of the state capital. The administration alleged that he has encroached upon government land.
The FIR came just a day after Masood along with 49 others were arrested on November 3 for violating Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and other sections of the Disaster Management Act and the Epidemic Act for holding a rally on October 29. He was released the same day on bail after furnishing bail bonds.
The latest FIR was registered based on the complaint of the Hindutva outfit – Dharm Sanskriti Samiti. Deepak Raghuwanshi, general secretary of Dharm Sanskriti Samiti, registered a complaint over the alleged speeches at the Iqbal Maidan rally hours after Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan took to task Bhopal Collector Avinash Lavania and Bhopal IG Irshad Wali over the rally.
In a police complaint, Raghuwanshi alleged that during the October 29 rally, Masood hurt religious sentiments and also burned the effigy of President of France Emmanuel Macron, which may affect Indo-French relations.
According to a video submitted to the police, Masood, while addressing a gathering stated that “the ministers of the Hindu leaning government also are in support of the comments made by the president of France.” He further added, “Along with the warning sent out to the French government, we are sending out a warning to the Indian government too that if they won't oppose the comments made by the French president then the response will be a brick for a brick.”
Confirming the submission of the video, Upendra Jain, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Bhopal range, said the sections were involved after fresh evidence came to the light that prima facie appeared to be true.
"We have registered the case based on prima facie evidence provided by the complainant and the case will be further investigated," said Jain.
When contacted, Masood claimed that the police actions were a bid to stifle the protest and silence him. "I have not said anything that is beyond my right under the Constitution. I will challenge this FIR much like the previous one in court," he said.
Earlier, an FIR was registered against Masood and 2,000 others under Section 188 of the IPC and other sections of the Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Act for staging the a protest in violation of COVID-19 protocols.
A month ago, Bhopal police had also registered an FIR against Masood for holding a rally against ‘black marketing’ and ‘shortage of oxygen cylinders’ in hospitals.