PUNE POLICE probing alleged pro-Pakistan slogans chanted during the protest held by members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) on Saturday evening said that they are not invoking sedition charges in the case. Earlier, the police said that they will add sedition charges against those booked in the case.
Pune Police Commissioner Amitabh Gupta had said that charges under Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between groups), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 120B (criminal conspiracy), and 109 (abetment) of the Indian Penal Code have been invoked.
Later, Gupta said that the police were not applying Section 124A. The decision of not invoking the provision was in the light of a Supreme Court ruling asking the Union and state governments to restrain from registering cases under 124A.
On Saturday morning, purported videos from the protest site — the Pune district collectorate — were circulated on social media with messages claiming that pro-Pakistan slogans were raised during the protest.
The protest was part of the agitations held by PFI members and supporters across the country against the nationwide searches on premises linked to the outfit and the arrest of its members by central and state agencies under terrorism charges. The protest in Pune was held on Friday afternoon in front of the district collector’s office.
Meanwhile, the Pune police said that various video recordings of the rally available on the social media platform will be sent for forensic analysis.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 2) Sagar Patil said, “A case was registered at Bundgarden police station for unlawful assembly and wrongful restraint. Multiple video clips of the incident being circulated on social media are being examined. The videos available on social media are being aggregated and will be sent for forensic analysis.”
“The sloganeering of ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ by some anti-social elements in Pune is highly condemnable… we want to make it clear that such slogans will not be tolerated,” Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had tweeted on Saturday.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), along with state agencies, had on Thursday launched nationwide raids against the PFI across several states in connection with their probe into terrorism and terror-funding charges. The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), too, had launched a crackdown in the state and conducted raids at 12 places and arrested 20 persons linked to the PFI, including two from Pune.
Ruling on a writ petition in May, the Supreme Court had said, “We hope and expect that the State and Central Governments will restrain from registering any FIR, continuing any investigation or taking any coercive measures by invoking Section 124A of IPC while the aforesaid provision of law is under consideration. If any fresh case is registered under Section 124A of IPC, the affected parties are at liberty to approach the concerned courts for appropriate relief. The courts are requested to examine the reliefs sought, taking into account the present order passed as well as the clear stand taken by the Union of India.”