Three Days After Hindutva Leader's Call to Boycott Muslim Fruit Sellers, Police Yet to File FIR

Chandru Moger, coordinator of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti in Bengaluru had claimed online that Muslims had a "monopoly over the fruit business" and urged Hindus not to buy fruits from Muslim vendors.

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New Delhi: Nearly three days have passed since Chandru Moger, coordinator of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti in Bengaluru, urged Hindus to only purchase fruits from Hindu vendors to “help end the monopoly of Muslims in the fruit business”.

Yet, a group of four social activists – consisting of an advocate, two paralegals and one engineer – is still trying in vain to get a first information report (FIR) registered against him for invoking communal hatred and violence.

Moger’s call for a kind of economic boycott of Muslims has come at a time when a large section of the society is already criticising Hindutva groups for seeking a bans on halal meat and the use of loudspeakers in mosques during azan.

Besides accusing Muslims of having a “monopoly” over the fruit business, Moger, in a tweet, also accused Muslims of “spitting on fruits and bread” before selling it and said, “I am requesting all Hindus to help end the monopoly of Muslims in the fruit business.”

The accusation of spitting in food, which Hindutva elements call “thook jihad“, has gained more currency in Hindutva circles of late.

Moger’s call had drawn immediate criticism from several politicians, including former Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, who called the Hindutva unit’s directive not to purchase fruits from Muslims a “droh” (betrayal) against the country and the farmers.

“Asking people not to buy mangoes or fruits from Muslims is anti-national and anti-farmer. Muslims buy crops from farmers to help the farmers. Farmers are Hindus,” he said.

AIMIM spokesperson, engineer approach police with complaint

With the police failing to act against Moger of its own volition, Sheikh Zia Nomani, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) Bengaluru spokesperson and Karnataka president of the Bandhua Mukti Morcha, came forward on April 6 and lodged a complaint at the Sanjay Nagar police station, seeking the registration of an FIR against the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti coordinator for maligning a community and invoking “communal hate and violence”.

Saying that “communalism is a threat to national integrity,” Nomani in his complaint, filed with an Inspector of Police, said, “Comments like these promote religious fundamentalism and fanaticism and are against the unity and integrity of our country.”

He further claimed, “These comments were made with a deliberate malicious intention to harm, damage and undermine one particular community and invoke communal hate and violence.”

Also read: Aggressive Hindutva in Karnataka is Unsurprising; it has Been 25 Years in the Making

Nomani also alleged that through his comments, Moger had falsely accused the Muslim community “with the sole intention to destroy the communal harmony of the state and the nation at whole.” As such, he demanded that an FIR be registered against Moger, also marking a copy of his complaint to the Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru City.

However, the police did not act in the matter.

Thereafter, Nomani, an engineer by profession, along with Murtuza Ali Baig, an advocate of Karnataka high court and paralegals Khizer-e-Alam and Waseem Raja, approached the police in the matter.

Alam is the Bengaluru Secretary of the NGO, the Human Rights and Social Justice Mission and Raja, too, is a social activist.

The struggle of getting an FIR registered

In a post on Facebook, Nomani detailed the process that he and the three others went through while trying get an FIR registered.

Talking to The Wire, Nomani said after filing the police complaint, he, along with the others, pursued the matter with the police.

As he wrote in the Facebook post, Nomani said, “(We) have been struggling to file FIR against the person who called to boycott Muslim fruit vendors, accusing them of ‘Spitting Jihad’.”

Nomani said when the “official complaint” was submitted to Inspector of Police at the Sanjay Nagar police station at 3 pm on April 6, the officer tried to convince them that “everyone has freedom of speech”.

“We contested that freedom of speech cannot be misused to target a certain community, calling for boycott,” he said. The inspector then tried to convince the group that he did not want the dispute to extend because “the accused party may react and the situation can turn volatile”. Finally, the inspector told them that the police would seek a legal opinion and then take appropriate action.

The next morning, April 7, Nomani said that an officer at the station told them, “They (the other officers) are taking a legal opinion which will take two to three days. You can go to higher authorities or go for a private complaint in the high court if you wish”

Thereafter, the group decided to approach the Bengaluru Commissioner of Police Kamal Pant, whom they met in the afternoon.

Pant gave them a sealed envelope and directed them to meet the Deputy Commissioner of Police (North), whom they met late that evening at his Yeshvanthpur office.

“The DCP opened the envelope and said ‘I will examine this’. We asked him why an FIR is not being lodged, even when the offences are cognisable. He responded, ‘I will examine this and we will get back’,” Nomani wrote.

All cops said, ‘Will have to examine matter’

Nomani told The Wire that the group was supposed to meet Additional Commissioner of Police Sandeep Patil on Friday, April 8, as the Commissioner insisted. However, the meeting did not materialise.

“When I called the Additional Commissioner today, in a very subtle way he told me not to meet him. His exact words were, ‘The DCP North is the competent authority and he reports to the Commissioner of Police. So be in touch with the DCP North, he will give an update’,” Nomani said.

The activist said he tried to reason with Patil, saying that the matter was a cognisable offence and, as per the law, an FIR should have ideally been registered within 24 hours of receipt of the complaint.

“When I asked him why was there such a long delay, he said, ‘We, too, will have to examine the matter’.”

Nomani said that the group will now approaching the high court with a private complaint seeking the registration of an FIR in the matter.

“We are drafting a complaint and will be approaching the court on Monday. Before that, on Saturday, we plan to hold a press conference on the matter. We will also be deciding if we should go ahead with a fast unto death to press for our demand. This satyagrah, if it does take place, will either be at Gandhi’s statue or outside the office of the Commissioner of Police,” Nomani said.