The Uttar Pradesh Police have booked Samajwadi Party MP Shafiqur Rahman Barq for sedition following his alleged remarks comparing the Taliban with Indian freedom fighters, NDTV reported. The case was also registered against two others.
The Taliban seized Afghanistan on August 15 after overthrowing the government headed by President Ashraf Ghani. They made rapid advances through the country amid the withdrawal of foreign troops. Ghani fled the country on Sunday, reportedly for neighbouring Tajikistan.
The next day, Barq reportedly told news agency ANI: “When India was under British rule, our country fought for freedom. Now Taliban wants to free their country and run it.” He allegedly added that Taliban is a force that “did not allow even strong countries like Russia and America to settle in their country”.
“They want to be free. This is their personal matter. How can we interfere?” the legislator had reportedly asked, according to PTI. He had said that when India was “under British rule, the entire country fought for independence”, and that the Afghans now wanted “to run their country in the manner that they wanted”.
Barq later denied making the statement and claimed that his words had been misinterpreted. “I’m a citizen of India, not of Afghanistan, so I’ve no business with what is happening there,” he said. “I support my government’s policies.”
The police have registered a first information report against the Sambhal MP under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code, PTI reported.
According to the FIR, following Barq’s remarks, Samajwadi Party workers Mohammad Muqueem and Chaudhary Faizan also made social media posts supporting the Taliban.
Sambhal Superintendent of Police Charkhesh Mishra said the case was registered on Tuesday night against Barq, Muqueem and Faizan “for provocative comments about the Taliban”, according to NDTV.
“The complainant said the Taliban was compared to Indian freedom fighters and their victory was celebrated,” Mishra said. “The Taliban is a terrorist organisation as per the Indian government and this [Barq’s remarks] can be counted as sedition.”
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath criticised Barq for his remarks. “He [Barq] was shamelessly supporting the Taliban,” he said. “It means supporting their barbaric act. We are a parliamentary democracy. Where are we heading? We are supporting people who are a blot on humanity.”
His deputy Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said that “anything can happen” in the Samajwadi Party. “There are people [in the SP] who cannot sing ‘Jana Gana Mana’, someone might support the Taliban, others could level allegations on police after terrorists are caught...This is appeasement,” Maurya said.
Maurya said that he had not heard Barq’s remarks but added: “But if this type of statement has been given then there is no difference between that person and Imran Khan.” The Pakistan prime minister had said that the Taliban had broken “the shackles of slavery” by seizing control of Afghanistan.