Two days after five Muslim youths in Khandwa were charged with sedition for carrying an allegedly inflammatory poster, the police on Tuesday decided to withdraw the charge. Sub-Inspector Ramesh More of the Moghat Police Station told The Indian Express that there wasn’t enough evidence to justify the sedition charge.
On Sunday, at least 11 persons, including five minors, were booked for a poster displayed at a procession organised on the occasion of Eid Milad-un-Nabi in Khandwa on Saturday. “Hamare azm ko hamare gaddar jaan jayenge, agar itihas pad lenge to pehchan payenge, yeh Hindustan mere khwaja ka tha, aur rahega galat fehmi me mat rahna, ki Ram rajya layenge (Our traitors will know of our intentions, if they read history they will recognise, that India was my saint’s and will be, do not be under the false impression that they will bring Ram Rajya),” read the poster.
Five of the accused were booked under Section 124 A (sedition), while the others faced charges under Sections 153 A, 505-2 (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between different groups on grounds of religion), and Section 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).
Among the 11, was Pankaj Soni, the owner of a graphics shop where the poster was made and printed. While he and the minors were released on bail, the remaining five accused were sent to judicial custody on Tuesday. State Home Minister Bhupendra Singh had tweeted on Monday that his government would deal sternly with elements who try to vitiate the peace. “Such elements should understand that this is a BJP government under Shivraj (Singh Chouhan). It won’t shy away from crushing riot,’’ he had said.
When contacted, Khandwa SP Navneet Bhasin said evidence was still being collected and, depending on the outcome, police may change the sections under which the accused have been booked. He said the poster was carried upside down to avoid detection.