Sessions court denies bail to stand-up comic held for ‘insulting’ Hindu deities

A police official, after the arrest was quoted by newspapers saying that there was no incriminating evidence against the comedian


A Sessions court in Madhya Pradesh denied bail to comedian Munawar Faruqui and another accused, who were arrested for allegedly insulting Hindu deities during their show. The arrests were based on a complaint made by convenor of Hind Rakshak Sangathan, Eklavya Singh Gaur, who is the son of BJP MLA.

Additional District and Sessions court judge Yatindra Kumar Guru rejected the bail plea on January 5. Faruqui and other accused namely  identified as Nalin Yadav, Edwin Anthony, Prakhar Vyas and Priyam Vyas were reportedly charged under sections 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), section 269 (unlawful or negligent act likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life).

Here’s a look at what happened so far:

The comedy show

As per a detailed account by FirstPost, the Gaur, was allegedly part of the audience for the show being held at Café Monroe. After one or two comedians finished their act, Faruiqui came on stage and before he could begin, Gaur came on stage and said, “Ye Munawar Faruqui hai, ye shows karta hai, humare devi devtaon ka mazaaq udata hai aur tum log (pointing to the audience) paise deke iska show dekhne aate ho, tumhe sharam nahi aati?” (This is Munawar Faruqui, he makes fun of our deities and you (audience) pay to come and watch him. Do you have no shame?). Gaur was referring to an old video of Faruqui released a few months ago, which was taken down by him after he was threatened by right wing groups.

Faruqui, in a video possibly shot by a fan, can be seen trying to reason with Gaur. When Gaur left the stage, Faruqui started his act and within minutes, there was commotion outside the venue and Faruqui and his team requested the audience to leave. One of the members of the audience told Firstpost, “We were appalled at the misinformation. There were no religious jokes. Gaur and Munawar had a brief discussion in front of the audience. Munawar was polite and handled the situation very nicely. Me and my friend left as soon as the organisers told us to leave, because we were scared”.

The arrest

After Faruqui and the other accused were arrested on January 2, SHO Kamlesh Sharma of Tukojigang police station spoke to India Today about the incident and stated, “We have examined two video footages given by the complainant. Nothing has been found to be malicious in the same.” He further added, “Now a pen drive has been given by the complainant and the same is being examined. But we can safely say that nothing incriminating was found in the two sets of video footages that were initially given by the complainant.”

While speaking to Firstpost, Sharma denied the report and said “Agar proof nahi hota toh court judicial custody mein kyu bhejti? (Why would the court remand to judicial custody if there is no proof?) And the case is under investigation.”

Later, Superintendent of Police, BPS Parihar, claimed that Faruqui and his associates were arrested as they did not have permission to organise the event in which social distancing norms were also violated, according to India Today.

The bail hearing

Additional District and Sessions court judge Yatindra Kumar Guru rejected bail to Faruqui and Nalin Yadav on January 5. Counsel for Faruqui and Yadav contended that the allegations were vague and action was taken under political pressure. He also denied that any comments were made to hurt religious feelings of any person. The bail was opposed by prosecution lawyer Vimal Mishra tstaing that no permission was taken from local administration for the show. He also argued that  indecent remarks were made against Hindu deities at the event, which he claimed was “full of obscenity despite the presence of minor boys and girls among the audience,” according to an NDTV report.

The social media uproar

The arrest of the comedian and his team had invoked a backlash from the stand-up comedians across the country and #SpeakForMunawar was trending on Twitter. Varun Grover, lyricist and comedian wrote on his Instagram account, “A fellow Indian, a fellow comedian is in jail and got beaten up by a mob because of the words he uttered. Here he’s trying to logically, calmly present his case but our systems now just want to brutally silence every voice. They don’t want to hear, they don’t want to even argue – they want to simply erase every shred of individual thought, every iota of reason. And we the people of the greatest civilization of earth are ok with it”. Another stand-up comedian Rohan Joshi shared the video of Faruqui trying to reason with Gaur on stage and captioned it, “Turns out now you can just assault people while they’re doing their job and the cops will take ‘them’ to the police station”.

Even Congress leader and MP, Shashi Tharoor spoke up against the incident:

Many spoke in support of Faruqui:


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