Three days after 15 Muslim men were charged with sedition for allegedly raising pro-Pakistan slogans and bursting crackers after Pakistan’s victory over India in the Champions Trophy cricket final, the Madhya Pradesh Police have withdrawn the sedition charge.
The 15 men, most of them youngsters, have now been charged with Section 153 A of the IPC for disturbing communal harmony. “It’s difficult to prove the sedition charge. Moreover, none of them has a criminal background. After initial investigation we found Section 153-A is more appropriate instead of Section 124-A,’’ Burhanpur SP RR Parihar told The Indian Express.
The accused, all of whom belong to Mohad village, about 25 km from Bhurnapur, have been sent to Khandwa jail. The police said the conspiracy charge (120 B of IPC) will remain.
The move follows a representation made by the families of the accused to the President of India, national and state human rights commissions and national and state minority commissions. They said the village has not witnessed any communal incident in the past. Gulzar Kasam Tadvi, the father of one of the accused, said the youngsters were innocent and that some miscreants may have burst crackers.
Earlier, when the families of the arrested men had visited the Burhanpur court premises, on Tuesday, they were cornered by some right-wing activists, advocates and common people who called them names and shouted slogans. “They raised slogans like ‘Hindustan Zindabad’. We also said ‘Hindustan Zindabad’ because we love the country,’’ said 62-year-old Gulzar Kasam, whose 23-year-old son Aitabar is among those arrested, told The Indian Express earlier.
A majority of those arrested by the Madhya Pradesh police on the sedition charge are daily wagers, while some own one or two acres of land.
On Monday, the police had charged the 15 arrested men with sedition for raising pro-Pakistani slogans and bursting crackers after India’s defeat in the ICC Champions Trophy final.