February 4, 2020 2:24:23 am
Mumbai police on Monday registered a case on charges of sedition against more than 50 people for allegedly shouting slogans in support of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Sharjeel Imam, arrested in a sedition case, at Mumbai Pride Solidarity Gathering held in Mumbai on February 1 after a video of the incident was shared by former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya. The video clip has also been vigorously circulated on social media platforms.
Imam was arrested on January 28 for allegedly making inflammatory speeches at protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act.
Police have named a woman, Urvashi Churawala, and 50 others who were purportedly heard chanting, ‘Sharjeel tere sapnoko hum manzil tak pahuchaenge. (Sharjeel, we will fulfill your dreams)’. The case has been registered under sections 124(A) (sedition), 153 (B) (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
“We have registered a case and we will soon start calling people and recording their statement. If we think that it is necessary to arrest them, then we may arrest them as well,” a police officer, who is an investigator in the case, said.
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The annual LGBT Pride Parade scheduled for February 1 at August Kranti Maidan was cancelled last Tuesday after an anonymous message, circulated over the previous weekend, linked the gathering to a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the proposed nationwide National Register for Citizens. Subsequently, a gathering was organised at the Azad Maidan.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, Pranaya Ashok, also Mumbai police spokesperson, confirmed that an FIR has been registered in the matter, but said no arrest has been made so far.
Home Minister Anil Deshmukh has also criticised the pro-Sharjeel Imam slogans at the Pride Parade. “The LGBTQ community was given permission to hold the pride march. But, Urvashi Churawala with some others entered the march and began raising slogans there. We will take action against Urvashi soon,” Deshmukh said at a press conference.
Earlier in the day, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, asked Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to crack the whip on the people protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Register for Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) at Azad Maidan in Mumbai. “We don’t expect anything from the Congress and the NCP whose concern is vote-bank politics. But at least, the Shiv Sena, which for several decades pursued certain ideology and national interest policies, should rein the forces which are indulging in anti-national activities.”
Calling the sloganeering in favour of Iman a “serious matter”, Fadnavis said, “While one can understand (ideological) differences in a democracy, what cannot be compromised is national interest. How can anybody justify anti-national slogans and acts?”
Meanwhile, the Queer Azadi Mumbai (QAM), which had organised the gathering, has disassociated itself from the slogans raised by the group. “We completely dissociate ourselves from and strongly condemn the abrupt radical slogans in support of Sharjeel and/or any other slogans against the integrity of India at the gathering,” a statement issued by the QAM Sunday stated.
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