Three days after Ansar (20) and Rashid (22), both residents of Alhkala locality in Kairana in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district, were arrested for posting ‘provocative’ messages on the WhatsApp group ‘4G Kairana’, the two men have been released on bail.
“Eight objectionable images had been posted last week. They were edited pictures and had the date ‘11.11.2016’ on them. Some of the pictures showed religious flags of one community put on places of worship of another community. There were also images showing holy books being set on fire. It was aimed at inciting hatred. We were informed about the group through a source,” said Investigating Officer Baburam Singh of Kairana police station.
At his home in Alhkala, Rashid, who has studied till Class 9, claimed that he was not part of the WhatsApp group and that he had discarded the phone number two years ago. “I got a 3G connection only two months ago and that was to take pictures of our orchard. Some people had been cutting our trees and I would take pictures and send them to the police,” said Rashid who, the police claimed, along with Ansar, was the administrator of the WhatsApp group.
He attended an Islamic school in the neighbourhood. The family of seven depends on agriculture for their livelihood.
The police have confiscated his phone, a Nokia 7582, which Rashid said he bought early this year. “We have sent the phones to the Shamli Surveillance Centre and are waiting for the report. While Rashid says he had discarded the phone number two years ago, the pictures are also from the same time. So we will have to investigate further. We are also unaware of the total number of members on the group,” said IO Singh.
“Such cases are becoming common in the region. We have had 4-5 incidents this year alone. Old videos also resurface and result in tension in the area.”
Ansar too is out on bail but was not at his home. The police are now on the lookout for Shamshad, a labourer, who was allegedly responsible for posting the image.
The three men, along with an unidentified person, have been booked under IPC sections 295 (Injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) and 505 (1) (Whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report).
Rashid claimed that Shamshad was framing him. “We had a fight a few days ago and he also knew my old number. He could be behind this,” he said.