New Delhi: A man who went to Chennai airport to pick up a friend arriving from the Gulf was taken into custody by the airport police and charged with sedition for a “random” audio message he received on WhatsApp that was deemed “anti-national”.
According to a report in the Indian Express, 36-year-old Tadikala Akbar Saleem from Andhra Pradesh was taken into custody by the air intelligence unit of the customs department, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Union home ministry, on Saturday (July 15). The air intelligence unit forwarded their complaint to the airport police on Sunday, after which an FIR was registered. Saleem was taken into custody because the friend he was waiting for was carrying more gold than is allowed by customs, after which his phone was checked and the message found.
The alleged anti-national content of the audio message Saleem received was a call to Muslims to gather at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar for a “show of strength”. According to the Indian Express, no specific date was mentioned for this gathering. An officer told the newspaper that the appeal was made in the name of “Maulana (Syed) Asad Madani saheb” of Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, a leading Muslim organisation, and had originated in Malaysia. “It’s [the] first time we are getting a chance to show the power of Muslims,” the officer quoted the appeal as saying.
On Monday, Saleem was presented before a magistrate. “His statement was taken and Saleem was released. The magistrate said there was no material evidence to prove an anti-national activity in that random WhatsApp message. Also, there was no call for violence,” an inspector from the airport police told Indian Express. According to the New Indian Express, Saleem returned to his village, Kadappa in Andhra Pradesh, after he was released.