Delhi Minorities Commission chairman Zafarul Islam Khan has been charged with sedition on Thursday for allegedly making “provocative” statements on social media, Hindustan Times reported. The charges against him are being investigated by the Delhi Police’s Cyber Cell.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Neeraj Thakur said that a first information report has been filed against Khan on the basis of a complaint from a resident of Vasant Kunj in south Delhi. The complainant accused Khan of making statements on Facebook and Twitter that were said to be “provocative, intend to cause disharmony and create a rift in the society”.
The case against Khan has been registered under sections 124A and 153A of the Indian Penal Code, Thakur added. Section 124A pertains to sedition and 153A deals with acts promoting enmity between different groups on the basis of religion, race or place of birth, among other charges.
On April 28, Khan in a tweet had thanked Kuwait for “standing with Indian Muslims,” in context of the large-scale communal violence that broke out in North East Delhi in February. “Thank you Kuwait for standing with the Indian Muslims! The Hindutva bigots calculated that Muslim and Arab world will not care about the persecution of Muslims in India,” he had tweeted. “The bigots forgot that Indian Muslims enjoy huge goodwill in the eyes of the Arab and Muslim world for their services over centuries to Islamic causes...”
Clashes had broken out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and February 26 in North East Delhi, killing 53 people and injuring hundreds.
In his tweet, Khan had also praised controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, claiming he was a “respected household name in the Arab and Muslim world”. However, the minorities panel chief later apologised for his remarks and said his tweet was “ill-timed” and “insensitive” in view of the coronavirus crisis the country is grappled with.
Both the Indian and Bangladeshi governments have been on the lookout for Naik since allegations surfaced that he inspired one of the terrorists involved in an attack at a Dhaka restaurant in July 2016. The same year, his Islamic Research Foundation was banned in India. In August last year, he was banned from making public speeches in Malaysia, where he has taken refuge.
Meanwhile, Khan refused to comment on the charges against him. “I have not seen the FIR,” he told Hindustan Times. “I will comment only when I see it or know about it.”