Telangana MLA Raja Singh arrested for remarks about Prophet Mohammed

BJP suspended him after Singh was arrested over Islamophobic remarks about comedian Munawar Faruqi

BJP MLA Raja Singh
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Thakur Raja Singh Lodh, who has a long history of making Islamophobic and communally offensive remarks, has now fallen out of favour with his own party. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suspended Singh soon after the Hyderabad Police arrested him on Tuesday, for allegedly making objectionable remarks against Prophet Mohammed.

Singh had released a video on a YouTube channel titled ‘Jai Shree Ram’, two days after a stand-up comedy show held by comedian Munawar Faruqi. The comedian had performed at Shilpakala Vedika with complete police protection on August 20, while Singh was put under house arrest to prevent him from disrupting the show. Despite such preventive measures Singh tried to disrupt Munawar Faruqi’s show but the disruptors were all arrested by the police.

Then Singh released the video where he reportedly said, “I thought to myself, He (Faruqui) is abusing Lord Ram and Sita so I should research this almighty of his and people who wear round caps (Muslims). The moment I did it, I found something very shocking in the video. In that, it says that the man married a six-year-old (referring to the Prophet Muhammad).”

Singh’s words sparked outrage, but he tried to defend his actions saying the video was merely a ‘comedy video’. Demonstrations demanding his arrests took place outside city police commissioner CV Anand’s office, and protests have also been held in other parts of town since Monday night. A few people were also reportedly taken into custody by the police.

A case was registered against Raja Singh under the following sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC):

153(a)- Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony;

295(a)Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage reli­gious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or reli­gious beliefs;

505 (1) (b)- with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquillity; and

505 (2)- Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes;

506- Punishment for criminal intimidation

On Tuesday, Singh was arrested by the Hyderabad police and then suspended by the BJP, shortly afterwards. According to Siasat, BJP chief spokesperson for Telangana, Krishna Saagar Rao stated, “We are a national party and we don’t support the statements of Raja Singh or hate speech.”

Raja Singh’s history of hate speech

This is not the first time T Raja Singh has made the news. In 2018, in a post on his Facebook account, Shah had explicitly asked his followers not to buy anything from the “terrorist Kashmiris” for the annual Amarnath Yatra. By July 2019, the video had been viewed 3,00,000 times. Singh has also had FIRs registered against him for promoting enmity between groups, but Facebook continued to entertain his account harbouring venomous content.

On June 22, 2018, CJP’s Hate Watch wrote that it had identified how one false rumour was spread, and prompted a hate-filled speech by Raja Singh that was broadcast via Facebook. CJP had then highlighted Singh’s influential position as a sitting member of the Telangana Legislative Assembly as well as a party whip in the state, noting that he had half a million followers on Facebook. When our team met with a team from Facebook, we were assured that the page was taken down. But we discovered in 2019 that his page, which was supposed to have been taken down, remained intact and Singh’s official page was active.

In 2020, Raja Singh was among the central figures named in an August Wall Street Journal report that claimed Facebook ignored hate speech by BJP leaders to protect its business interests in India. They concluded Singh not only had violated the company’s hate-speech rules but qualified as dangerous, a designation that takes into account a person’s off-platform activities. 

In the run up to the UP assembly elections, he had openly threatened the state’s Hindu voters. He demanded they re-elect the Adityanath-led BJP government, or else their houses will be identified and destroyed with bulldozers and JCBs. He said, “To those who do not vote for Bharatiya Janata Party, I want to say that Yogiji has asked for thousands of JCBs, bulldozers. They are on their way towards Uttar Pradesh. After the elections, those areas which did not support Yogiji will be identified. You do know what JCBs and bulldozers are used for, right?”

By March 2021, Facebook finally concluded that Raja Singh had violated its own Community standards (Objectionable Content) and Violence and Criminal Behaviour rules, and his account was removed. However, while his previous Facebook account was taken down that year, an unverified account with similar hateful content cropped up. His hateful words are also spread via so called “fan pages” named Tiger Raja Singh Fan Club and T Raja Singh Samarthak Jalgaon PRK Group which collectively have lakhs of followers.

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