Four youths have been arrested in Indore on charges of creating “public nuisance” after members of Bajrang Dal caught them outside a garba organised by the city’s Oxford College on Sunday night, and handed them over to police saying the event, held in violation of Covid norms, promoted “love jihad”.
While two of them, Adnan Shah and Kadir Mansoori, study at the college, Umar Khalid and Sayyad Sakib are their friends.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Superintendent of Police, Indore West, Maheshchand Jain, said the action against the four was “unfair” and that he had recommended against their detention. Malharganj SDM Parag Jain said the four were booked under “public nuisance” based on the police report. While he added they were sent to jail as the families failed to present bail bonds, the uncle of one of them said they were kept in the dark on the matter.
The owner of Oxford College did not respond to calls or messages seeking comment.
Bajrang Dal and VHP district in-charge Tarun Devda wrote to police saying the SDM had given the college permission for a garba with 800 students, in line with Covid norms, but it had sold tickets to around 3,000 people. The Bajrang Dal accused the college of “commercialisation”, while assembling “young women” and promoting “love jihad”, “distorting the purity of the event”. Claiming to have photos and videos of the event, it sought an inquiry as well as action against the organisers.
One of the volunteers manning the entry at the college event, Habib Noor, a third-year B.Com student, told The Indian Express that members of the Bajrang Dal had picked out Mansoori in the parking lot, saying “Ye unwala hai (he is one of theirs).”
“Kadir tried telling them he was a student of the college, but they just dragged him away,” Noor said, adding that when Mansoori called out to Adnan Shah to testify he studied with him, the Bajrang Dal caught hold of Adnan as well. “The Bajrang Dal men then took them to the police van outside the event ground.”
Adnan’s uncle Sajid Shah said they learnt of their detention at 11.30 pm Sunday. “… Be it garba or Republic Day, they participate in all college functions. What are they being punished for?” he asked.
Shah claimed that they were unable to reach police officials all of Sunday night.
“Early Monday morning police assured us that the four would be released but they were produced before the SDM, who instead of giving them bail, sent them to jail without our knowledge,” said Shah.
SDM Jain said the organisers were found to have violated Covid norms, with around 5,000 people present at the garba venue, and had stopped it at 8 pm following the complaints. “…an FIR was registered against the organisers too.” On action against them, the SDM said: “It’s part of police procedure and not up to the SDM…”
SP Maheshchand said, “The action against the four youths is unfair… The action was taken despite me ordering against it.”