The families of three men charged with raising pro-Pakistan slogans in Araria and allegedly seen in a viral video said they have given police an original copy of the video Saturday, which “clearly shows” the men raised no “objectionable slogans”. According to the families, the slogans in the viral video — “Pakistan zindabad” and “Bharat tere tukde honge” — were either in the background or were superimposed.
The video families have submitted to police and seen by The Sunday Express, shows the three men shouting, “Katno kariyo baap baap, lalten chhaap (However hard opponents try, the RJD will win).”
Araria police said the three men — two were arrested Friday — were charged for sharing the video, which could have fomented communal trouble. Police said they could investigate further only after receiving an FSL report about the video to determine if it was genuine or doctored.
While charges under Section 66A of the IT Act, which the Supreme Court struck down last year, were dropped, police are yet to gather strong evidence against the three men charged — Adib Raza, Shehzad Afroz and Sultan Azmi — with trying to cause enmity between the two communities, sources said. The video went viral after RJD leader Sarfaraz Alam won the Araria Lok Sabha bypoll and was allegedly shot during the victory celebration. While Shehzad and Sultan surrendered, Abid has been absconding and can apply for anticipatory bail.
Araria sub-divisional police officer (DSPO) KD Singh said: “Since there were apprehensions of a communal flare-up after the video went viral, we had to book the case and then make arrests. It was not about whether the video is doctored or real. It is about the men circulating it.”
“Adib was on Facebook live. The family should hand over mobile phones of the three men fast so there is a fair investigation. We have booked them under suspicion and don’t have any evidence against them so far for inciting enmity between communities. We have invoked mild charges that deal with engaging in an act of provocation that can cause a communal riot,” he said.
The SDPO said police would soon send the video to the FSL in Patna after court permission. “We can look into the probable conspiracy of alleged tampering of the video only after the FSL reports confirm that it is doctored. As for background voices, we will also talk to other men in the victory procession”, he said.
Before he was charged, Adib Raza (18), who just wrote his class XII examination in Azadnagar, was planning to shift to Patna to prepare for engineering entrance tests. His elder brother, SA Raza, works in a coaching institute in Patna and his younger sister studies in class IX in Araria. Adib’s mother Lovely is a ward councillor and father Nawab Raza runs a bottled water supply business.
Raza, who recently suffered a paralytic attack, which left him with a speech impediment, said: “Anybody who has seen the video can understand none of three men said anything objectionable. We did rebuke him (Adib) for going overboard during the celebrations but this episode has shaken us. We are providing strong evidence in our favour and know the police have a weak case and is working under pressure. How long do we have to give certificates of being patriots? A handful of people have been vitiating the atmosphere.”
Raza’s family said they would soon file for Adib’s anticipatory bail. His mother Lovely said her son would come out clean and that their hard-earned prestige was at stake.
Sultan Azmi (18), a class X drop out, helps his father Mohammed Aftab Alam in his mobile repair shop and is the eldest of three brothers and a sister. Though he was never associated with any political party, he joined the celebration of Sarfaraz’s victory with neighbours, who had taken out a motorcycle procession.
Aftab Alam said: “I was apprehensive of a communal flare-up so I handed over my son to police to cooperate with the probe. The police are surely under political pressure. I have stopped going to work as people have started looking at us with disrespect.”
As he spoke, his wife Sabila Khatoon broke down and only wanted to know if her son would come back home soon. The family has been thinking of hiring a good lawyer and said the original video handed over to the police would surely get them justice.
According to Tarique Afroz, his younger brother Shehzad had just written his claxx XII examination and lived in Delhi. “We are seven brothers and three sisters. Our father Mohammed Afroz Alam is a retired translator. Shehzad wants to become a lawyer,” he said. Tarique and his two brothers have a mobile phone business.
“We have met Araria police and conveyed our side of the story. Even the police believe that the video looks doctored. We are cooperating with police but it is difficult to deal with the loss of social prestige in one go,” he said.
Social activist Guddu Khan said they had provided enough evidence to the police and now expected the two youths to get bail. “We are hurt with the haste with which police filed the FIR. They could have verified the video and talked to parents of the three boys first to understand their side of the story”, he said.