Police in Mahoba, Uttar Pradesh, have registered an FIR against 23 Muslim youth for “promoting enmity between groups on grounds of religion and hurting religious sentiments”, following allegations that they served “non-vegetarian biryani” to Hindus at a Muslim religious congregation without telling them.
Police said that the case was registered after the intervention of local BJP MLA Brijbhushan Rajpoot.
A police officer also told The Indian Express that the complainant was willing to give an affidavit to withdraw the case but the MLA urged him to lodge the complaint.
The alleged incident took place in the Charkhari police station area of the district on August 31 during Urs, a religious congregation organised by Muslim residents of Salat village. The religious congregation, according to the locals, has been organised every year for the past six years at a local shrine.
The FIR stated that buffalo meat was served mixed with rice without alerting the Hindus to intentionally hurt their religious sentiments.
The FIR has been registered under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
Meanwhile, the BJP MLA said that when he came to know about the incident, he “asked” the villagers to get an FIR registered.
“On Saturday, there was an Urs (a Muslim congregation) organised at Salat village. Hindus, who are in majority here, also participate and even give donations for the same. As part of the event, every year there is a huge (bhandara) feast where vegeterian food is served. Even this year, around 10,000 people from 13 villages came to attend it,” said MLA Rajpoot.
“This year, when the feast started, several Hindus were served rice on the pretext of it being baba ka prasad. When a few people started eating it, they found meat peaces and bones. When the matter escalated, a panchayat was called in which the main accused accepted that buffalo meat was served by mistake. He apologised and offered to pay Rs 50,000 to arrange a shuddhikaran. While some people agreed to it, others came to me. I went to the village and asked for an FIR to be registered against those responsible as they did this to knowingly hurt our religious feelings,” he added.
Rajkumar Raikwar, who is a complainant in the FIR, said that while only one person, identified as Pappu Ansari, was responsible for serving non-vegeterian food without telling anyone, all the 22 others named in the FIR were innocent. Their names have been added on the direction of the MLA who “made us sign the complaint without us knowing what was it for”, he claimed.
Anoop Kumar Pandey, Station House Officer (SHO) of Charkhari Police Station, said that the main accused, Pappu Ansari, had promised a “biryani feast” if his nephew recovered from an illness and as a result, non-vegetarian biryani was served at the event.
“While puri-sabzi was served at one stall, biryani was served at another. While those who eat non-vegetarian food ate the biryani, others did not. Later, there were rumours that there was buffalo meat in the biryani. I reached there and brought the situation under control. However, the MLA later intervened and matter was again raised. I told the MLA to give a complaint if something wrong has happened. Now, we have registered an FIR based on the complaint,” said the SHO.
DIG, Chitrakoot range, Deepak Kumar, meanwhile, said he has heard about the alleged incident, but not aware if an FIR has been filed.