FIR filed by UP police against 2 journalists, 3 others for putting out social media posts on an incident of alleged mob lynching of a Muslim

On July 5, an incident of mob lynching of a Muslim man was reported in UP, on July 6, the police booked those who put out social media posts on the incident while maintaining the same to be a case of culpable homicide, deemed the social media posts to be “malicious” and “wrong”

On July 6, the Uttar Pradesh Police filed a First Information Report (FIR) against journalist Zakir Ali Tyagi and four others for alleging on social media that a Muslim man had been lynched by a mob in the state’s Shamli district. As per multiple media reports, the four other that have been booked include Wasim Akram Tyagi, Asif Rana, Saif Allahbadi and Ahmad Raza Khan. It is essential to note that both Zakir Ali Tyagi and Wasim Akram Tyagi are journalists.

The above-named five persons have been booked for promoting enmity between different groups under section 196 of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) 2023, and making statements conducive to public mischief under section 353 of the BNS. This comes after a social media post had been put out by Zakir Ali Tyagi on July 5, claiming that a man Firoz, or Kala Qureshi, had died in a mob lynching incident in the Jalalabad town of Shamli district. He also named the persons who had allegedly beaten-up Qureshi. Qureshi was a scrap worker with no criminal record, and was beaten to death over allegations of theft in the Jalalabad town of Shamli district. After his family protested, an FIR against three persons – Pankaj, Pinky and Rajendra – was lodged.

In the said social media post. Zakir Ali Tyagi had alleged that deceased Firoz was “killed by members of another community” on the suspicion of breaking into their house. The post had also been accompanied by a picture the deceased as well as the complaint that was filed by Qureshi’s family, who claimed that Qureshi had been beaten up by a group of men that had caused his death. As provided by Qureshi’s family, he had gone to the Aryanagar area for some work where he was beaten up by a group of three men – Pinky, Pankaj and Rajendra, all residents of Ganga Arya Nagar – around 8 pm. It was after reaching Qureshi being rescused by some men and reaching his house that Qureshi took his last breath around 11 pm, as stated by the police. It is essential to note that an FIR over the said incident had been registered under BNS Section 105 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) on July 5 based on the complaint filed by the family.

Police denies lynching by mob

It is crucial to highlight that even as the BNS has brought in a provision of murder by a mob on ground of race, caste or community, sex, place of birth, language, personal belief or any other ground, the same was not invoked by the Shamli police in this incident. Rather, the Shamli police have maintained that it was not the case of mob lynching.

As per a report of Indian Express, the Shamli police had given out statement providing that “On the night of July 4, Firoz had entered the house of accused Rajendra in an intoxicated state. A scuffle broke out between the two parties. Later Firoz’s family took him home where he died. There was no serious visible injury on Firoz’s body. On the basis of the complaint of (Firoz’s) family members, a case was registered under relevant sections and post-mortem of the body was done.”

The statement further provided that “It was also informed earlier that it is clear from the post-mortem report that the cause of death was not assault. The deceased had entered the accused’s house drunk. Despite this, the incident was deliberately given a communal colour and it was posted on social media as mob lynching with the aim of spreading ill will. Action will be taken in the FIR registered as per the post-mortem report. Appropriate FIR has also been registered against the malicious post. The accusations are irrational and hence refuted.”

As per the IE report, the police informed that the viscera of the deceased are preserved and the report is awaited for the same as the cause of the death is unclear. The inspector in-charge of Thana Bhawan police station has been directed to take strict legal action against those booked for posting “wrong” and “malicious” information, the police said.

Shooting the messenger?

In a classic case of shooting the messenger, the UP police to filing an against the aforementioned five persons, including two Delhi-based journalists, under sections of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) for allegedly promoting enmity on grounds of religion through “malicious” posts on X claiming the killing of Qureshi to be an incident of mob lynching. It is essential to note that no arrests have been made in the case so far.

As per the Scroll, the FIR against the five individuals was registered on a complaint by a sub-inspector, Manendra Kumar, of Thana Bhawan police station in Shamli. As per the report, the FIR stated that “Regarding the incident of deceased Firoz… Zakir Ali, Wasim Akram Tyagi, Asif Rana, Saif Allahabadi and Ahmed Raza Khan posted/reposted from their X account… They wrote that late at night in Jalalabad town of Thana Bhawan police station area, a young man, whose name is said to be Firoz alias Kala Qureshi, was beaten to death by some people of another community on suspicion of breaking into the house. Anyone would kill someone like this and then say that he/she had suspicions.”

Shamli Superintendent of Police Abhishek had also confirmed to Scroll that a FIR had been registered against Zakir Ali Tyagi and the four others as “[Qureshi’s death] was not a case of mob lynching.

The superintendent of police further stated that “The man was beaten up by a few men when he entered their home. But he died at his [own] home. We have also conducted a post-mortem.”

The FIR also quoted the allegations made by Zakir Ali Tyagi and others in their social media post on ‘X’ (formerly Twitter) about Qureshi, alleging that he had “died in a mob lynching incident”. The complaint included that the post said that Qureshi was “severely beaten by people of some other community on the suspicion that he had entered their house”.

As provided by the Scroll, the FIR report quoted the complainant as contending that the social media posts had sparked “hatred and anger” among individuals of a “particular community”.

The FIR said, “Because of the tweets (posts) by the above persons on their X account, there is an enmity and anger among the people of a particular community… Due to this, there is every possibility of communal harmony and local peace getting disturbed. Please take legal action in this regard.”

It is essential to note that the punishment of committing a crime under Section 196 and Section 353 of the BNS is imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

Notably, a post about the incident of “brutal beating” was also shared by Thana Bhawan MLA, Ashraf Ali Khan. The MLA represents Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), an ally of the ruling National Democratic Alliance at the Centre.

I am being threatened by slapping FIR against me: Zakir Ali Tyagi

Journalist Zakir Ali told IE that, “Shamli Police has registered an FIR against me for reporting the ‘lynching case’. This is not the first time. Even before this I had been attacked five times because of my reporting. Not only me but other journalists too are surprised (over the police action on his post).”

Responding to the criminal case against him, Zakir Ali Tyagi spoke to Scroll and said deemed the FIR filed against him to be tactics to intimidate him. As per the report, Zakir said “Muslims are being lynched daily since the new government [at the Centre] was formed and I am being threatened by slapping FIR against me.”

Highlighting that the present FIR was not the only FIR filed against him, Zakir Ali alleged that the government was trying to silence journalists and citizens who were talking about crimes against Muslims.

“I was attacked and even jailed for 58 days for being a journalist and raising voices of the voiceless, yet we will neither get threatened nor will we bow down but will continue to write against the oppression,” Zakir Ali Tyagi told Scroll.

He further said he will challenge the FIR in the High Court and Supreme Court.

Below are the previous cases filed against journalist Zakir Ali Tyagi:

  1. In the year 2017, Zakir Ali Tyagi had been arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police for two of his Facebook posts – one of which was a joke about the criminal record of Adityanath, the newly-appointed chief minister of the state at that time. He was booked under the Information Technology Act and spent 42 days in jail.
  2. In August 2020, the Uttar Pradesh Police had arrested Zakir Ali Tyagi for alleged cow slaughter, a crime that carries a sentence of 10 years in prison under the Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act. Notably, Zakir Ali Tyagi denied the cow slaughter charge against him.
  3. In December 2022, a court issued an externment order against Zakir Ali Tyagi under the Uttar Pradesh Control of Goondas Act, preventing him from going back to his own Meerut district for a period of three months. The prosecution had claimed that Zakir Ali Tyagi is a threat to the peace and order in his community because of his involvement in a case involving the slaughter of cows.

Many on social media have also come out in support of Zakhir Ali Tyagi, and have criticised the misuse of the new criminal laws.

DIGIPUB News India Foundation has also come out with a statement urging the UP police to rescind the FIR against five people including 2 journalists who posted about the death of a Muslim man in Shamli.



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