A journalist working for Scroll.in, Zafar Aafaq, was detained for questioning by Indore Police in Delhi on Sunday, in connection with his detailed report on Bajrang Dal and its ‘love jihad’ vigilantes. He was released after 3 hours of questioning.
His report, published on February 4, was titled “In Indore, ‘love jihad’ vigilantes from Bajrang Dal have a free run” for which he visited Indore in January and had contacted various Bajrang Dal members as a part of his investigation.
Indore Police, in Delhi’s Lahori Gate Police Station, were apparently conducting investigation on a complaint filed by a Bajrang Dal leader who claimed to have received death threats after their protests against the movie ‘Pathaan’. One of the numbers from which the threat calls were made was traced to Delhi and to Aafaq. The number was given to Aafaq by the news organisation in which he was previously employed which he continued to use after joining Scroll.
“After it was explained to the police that Aafaq had called many Bajrang Dal leaders in Indore as part of his work as a reporter, the police allowed him to go. Nothing was seized from Aafaq during the questioning,” said Scroll in a statement.
An incident that had prompted Aafaq to make the detailed report was where hundreds of Bajrang Dal men had barged into a home where a Hindu girl was celebrating her birthday with her friends. These men barged in and detained all the Muslim boys, who had moved to Indore to learn web design. They beat them up and questioned them after which they were taken to a police station and instead of taking any action against the Bajrang Dal men, the police acted against the Muslim boys who were kept in detention. Aafaq wrote in his report that such incidents of impunity towards Bajrang Dal were becoming commonplace in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, a state governed by BJP.
“In the majority of the incidents, Scroll found, Bajrang Dal leaders boasted on social media about their role in the “raids” on couples. In most cases, the police turned a blind eye to the violence,” he wrote. The detained men were released 3 days later after being in preventive detention for 3 days.
Pointing towards many such incidents of Bajrang Dal hounding Muslim men if accompanied by a Hindu woman, he wrote, “As is evident from Bajrang Dal Indore leader Tannu Sharma’s Facebook timeline, since the first week of December, the organisation’s members have been involved in more than a dozen incidents in which they accosted Hindu women and Muslim men in public spaces – cafes, bus stands, parks, or parking lots”.
Zafar, in his report had pointed towards how there was a pattern in how Bajrang Dal men were always let off by the police in such cases and had instead detained the victim of the abuse/assault in all cases.