The Prayagraj Police in Uttar Pradesh have submitted a production warrant in an Indore court for comedian Munawar Faruqui in connection with a case from April, the Hindustan Times reported on Sunday. Faruqui has been in custody in Indore since his arrest on January 1 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments during a programme.
The Prayagraj police submitted the warrant on Saturday before the chief judicial magistrate court in Indore and the city’s central jail authorities, where Faruqui is lodged, said Shishupal Sharma, the station house officer of George Town police station.
Sharma said that the case against the comedian was filed by advocate Ashutosh Mishra in Prayagraj on April 19, 2020, under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 65 and 66 of the Information Technology Act, 2008.
The complainant alleged that he found a video on social media in which Faruqui made derogatory remarks against Union Home Minister Amit Shah and tried to create hatred between communities, the police said. Mishra also alleged that Faruqui hurt religious sentiments by making remarks against Hindu deities in another video, the police added.
Superintendent of Indore jail Rajesh Kumar Bhangre said they were yet to receive any communication on the production warrant, according to The Indian Express. “We will seek the court’s opinion in case we receive the warrant,” Bhangre said. “Once the court grants permission, Munawar’s custody will be handed over to UP [Uttar Pradesh] police.”
Faruqui’s lawyer in Madhya Pradesh High Court Anshuman Shrivastav said they will move for anticipatory bail once they get the details of the warrant and the case. The Madhya Pradesh High Court had on January 15 adjourned the comedian’s bail plea after the police failed to produce the case diary and listed the matter for hearing on January 22.
After Faruqui’s arrest, the police had said the charges against the comedian were imposed after his performance at the Monroe Cafe in Indore. “During the show, the comedian allegedly mocked Hindu gods and goddesses,” a police official said.
But on January 4, the Indore Police had said that there was no visual evidence to show that Faruqui had insulted Hindu deities. Despite the lack of concrete evidence, courts have twice rejected the bail pleas of Faruqui, stating that his release would disrupt law and order.
The complaint against Faruqui was filed by Eklavya Singh Gaur, the chief of Hindutva group Hind Rakshak Sangathan, according to reports. Gaur is the son of Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Malini Gaur. Faruqui was also accused of making derogatory remarks about Shah, and of allegedly mocking the kar sevaks who were killed in the Godhra massacre of 2002.
Along with Faruqui, four others – Nalin Yadav, Prakhar Vyas, Edwin Anthony and Priyam Vyas – were also arrested on similar charges. Faruqui’s friend Sadaqat Khan was also arrested for allegedly making abusive remarks about Gaur.