New Delhi: Munawar Faruqui, a stand-up comedian from Gujarat, was arrested in Indore on Saturday along with four others after the son of a BJP MLA filed a complaint accusing them of passing “indecent remarks” about Hindu deities and Union home minister Amit Shah during a New Year show.
A local court rejected their bail pleas and sent them to judicial custody.
Thirty-six-year-old Eklavya Singh Gaur, son of local BJP MLA Malini Laxman Singh Gaur, who had filed the complaint about the show, said that when he and his associates, who had gone to watch the show, heard the “indecent” comments, they forced the organisers to stop the program.
The other arrested persons were identified as Edwin Anthony, Prakhar Vyas, Priyam Vyas and Nalin Yadav. All of them were booked under IPC sections 295-A (outraging religious feelings), 269 (unlawful or negligent act likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life) and other relevant provisions. Section 269 was invoked for allegedly ignoring COVID- 19 safety protocol, a police official said.
“A case was filed late on Friday night against Munawar Faruqui, a resident of Junagadh in Gujarat and four Indore-based persons based on a written complaint filed by Gaur,” Kamlesh Sharma, in-charge of Tukoganj police station, said.
The comedy show was held at a cafe in 56 Dukan area of Indore on Friday, police said.
Gaur also submitted video footage of the show, Sharma added.
As per the complaint, indecent remarks were passed against Hindu gods and goddesses, and Amit Shah during the show, Sharma said.
“The show mocked Hindu deities by passing indecent comments. The Godhra incident and Union home minister Amit Shah were also mentioned inappropriately. We shot a video and stopped the show by taking the audience out of the cafe,” Gaur told reporters. “Then we caught the comedians and organisers of the show and took them to Tukoganj police station,” he said.
However, a person who claimed to have attended the show said that neither had Faruqui said anything targetting any particular religion nor were his jokes derogatory.
Gaur, who is the convener of local outfit Hind Rakshak, also alleged that no physical distancing was maintained at the venue and the show had no permission from authorities. “At least 100 viewers were sitting in the small hall of the cafe,” Gaur alleged.
While some media reports said that the stand-up comedian had been thrashed by workers of the Hind Rakshak during the ruckus in the cafe, Gaur denied the claim.
Chief judicial magistrate Aman Singh Bhuria refused to grant bail to Faruqui and four others and remanded them in judicial custody till January 13.
During arguments, Farooqui’s lawyer Anshuman Shrivastava said the FIR had been registered with a political motive, and cited the constitutional provisions of freedom of speech to defend the comedians.
Gaur’s lawyer Dinesh Pandey opposed bail applications, saying the show was held without the administration’s permission and it hurt religious feelings.
(With inputs from PTI)