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Samajwadi MP Shafiqur Rehman Barq Charged With Sedition for Comments on Taliban

Barq who had likened the Taliban cause to India's fight for independence said he was quoted out of context and wrong charges have been levelled against him.

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Sambhal: Samajwadi Party MP Shafiqur Rehman Barq has been booked for sedition following his recent remarks allegedly defending the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and equating it with India’s own freedom struggle, police said on Wednesday, August 18.

He was charged under Indian Penal Code section 124A (sedition) following a complaint from BJP leader Rajesh Singhal on Tuesday, Superintendent of Police Chakresh Mishra said.

Following registration of the case, Barq on Wednesday said he was quoted out of context and wrong charges have been levelled against him. “I am with the policies of India,” he said.

Singhal in his complaint said that Barq’s “controversial statement comes in the category of sedition”, he said.

The MP has been also booked under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), Mishra said.

Besides Barq, two others – Mohammad Muqueem and Chaudhary Faizan – have also been booked under these sections, the officer said, adding that the matter is being probed.

Following the Sambhal MP’s remarks, Samajwadi Party (SP) workers Muqueem and Faizan posted material on social media in support of the Taliban, according to the FIR.

Responding to questions from reporters on Monday, Lok Sabha member Barq had said the Taliban wanted to free their country and it was Afghanistan’s internal matter.

He had called the Taliban a force that did not allow Russia or the United States to establish themselves in Afghanistan, “and now they want to run their own country”.

The MP had said that when India was under British Rule, the entire country fought for independence.

“They want to be free. This is their personal matter. How can we interfere?” the SP legislator had said on developments in Afghanistan.

Endorsing the Taliban takeover, Barq had said the Afghans want to run their own country in the manner they wanted.”

The remarks drew sharp criticism from Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath. In the state legislative council, the chief minister took up the matter.

“He was shamelessly supporting the Taliban. 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,” the CM added.

Asked to comment on the MP”s remarks, Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said he had not personally heard them. “But if this type of statement has been given then there is no difference between that person and Imran Khan.”

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday had appeared to endorse the Taliban”s takeover of Kabul, saying Afghanistan has broken the “shackles of slavery”.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Barq said, “I have not given any such type of statement, and this is wrong. I was asked questions and I said what connection do I have with the Taliban. I cannot speak on this. Whatever be the policies of my country, I will be with it.”

“I have nothing to do with the Taliban. I am not a resident of that place (Afghanistan). Who am I to comment on the Taliban? Why should I give my opinion. I was quoted out of context,” he said

Asked about the charges levelled against him, Barq said, “Let the case be registered. The allegations levelled against me are completely false. I have not given any such type of statement. Neither I am with the Taliban nor I have praised them nor I have anything to do with them. I am interested in the policies of India and I am with India.”

He said that the Taliban belongs to Afghanistan and it is the country’s internal matter. “I am a voter of India, and I am concerned about India, and its policies,” Barq said.