A 21-year-old was Tuesday apprehended in Ludhiana by the Punjab Police following a case registered in Arunachal Pradesh for his purported racial remarks against Congress MLA and former Union minister Ninong Ering and for “inciting ill will and hatred” against the people of the northeastern state.
On Monday, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu had said that the youth, identified as Paras Singh, had been booked under sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc), 505(2) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Punjab police, who arrested Paras from Janakpuri area of Ludhiana, said he has two YouTube channels ‘Paras Official’ and ‘Tech Guru Hindi’. He is also a PUBG player and most of his content on YouTube is related to this game, said a senior Punjab police official.
“A non-bailable warrant against the accused was issued by an Itanagar court. We have information from the Punjab Police that they have apprehended him,” said RP Upadhyaya, Director General Police, Arunachal Pradesh. “Our team has reached Ludhiana and will probably be bringing him to Arunachal Pradesh.”
Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju Tuesday said the accused had been taken into custody. “Arunachal Pradesh police team is reaching Punjab. I’ve spoken to police commissioner of Ludhiana for urgent judicial process for transit remand as it’s an inter-state arrest, so he can be brought to Arunachal Pradesh” Rijiju tweeted.
On Sunday, Paras uploaded a video where he commented on Ering’s appearance saying he did not “look Indian” and claimed that Arunachal Pradesh was not a part of India, but in China. Paras made the comments in the context of Ering’s letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a ban on a game called ‘Battlegrounds Mobile India’.
The video caused widespread outrage in Arunachal Pradesh, with people from various parts of the state, including Ering himself, filing complaints.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Ering said Paras was a video game enthusiast and hence “frustrated” with his letter asking for the ban. “It would have been alright if he just wrote to me about it but instead, he started criticising my looks, my community and my state. It was very hurtful to hear those comments.”
Ering said Paras’s comments amounted to “racial discrimination”. “Now is not just me who is fighting the case — our chief minister, our deputy chief minister, all the NGOs, students organisations… all the people of Arunachal Pradesh are speaking out,” he said.
A Punjab police official said, “The youth, whose family hails from Bihar earns Rs 40,000-50,000 a month from the advertisements that he gets on YouTube on his channels. He is saying that he had no intention to hurt anyone with the video he posted about Arunachal MLA and he never knew it would snowball.”
Paras’s mother Chanda Devi is a homemaker and his father died a few years ago. He has a sister who is married. The family hails from Katihar, Bihar, and they had migrated to Ludhiana for work. His father used to work as a driver.
Police said Paras started the YouTube channels after completing his class X studies.
His channel ‘Tech Guru Hindi’ has 5.30 lakh followers while ‘Paras Official’ has 4.60 lakh followers.
In a video titled ‘Sorry Arunachal Pradesh’ that he uploaded on May 23, Paras says, “Main maanta hu ki meri galti hai, ab isse zyada kya karoon, faansi laga lu apne aap ko? Kal maine ek video upload ki thi jisme ek point pe aake maine kuch galat bol dia tha jiske liye main kaafi sharminda hun. Uss video se maine wo saare part ko delete kar dia hai…maine galti ki hai aur main aage se dhyaan rakhunga iss cheez ka. Main uss tarah se uss baat ko bolna nahi chahta tha jis tarah se wo logon ko dikha hai…par meri galti hai…jinko bhi bura laga hai unn sabhi se haath jod kar maafi maangta hu. Aage se aisi galti kabhi nahi hogi…main sharminda hu aur sabhi se maafi maangta hu…(I made a mistake, what more should I do, hang myself? Yesterday I had uploaded a video in which at one point I said something wrong, for which I am very embarrassed. I have deleted all those parts from the video. I made a mistake and I will be careful in the future. I did not mean it the way it is being portrayed, but it is my mistake. To whoever felt offended by it, I apologise with folded hands. I will never make such a mistake again. I apologise to everyone…)”
The apology video had 6.71 lakh views till the time of filing this report.
Paras further says that he is receiving “hate comments” on his videos and “abuses are being hurled at his family”. “Abuse me because it is my fault but what is my family’s fault? Is it their fault that they brought me to this world? Since three years I am uploading videos and I never used such lines. Yesterday, I made the video in anger. Main koi bada insaan nahi hu, main baccha hu. Mujhe itna hate mil raha hai, YouTube pe gaaliyan, Instagram pe gaaliyan…aap hi batao kaise main apni galti ko sudharun? I apologize to everyone…should I hang myself? If I have made a mistake, give me one chance to correct it. I can’t say anything further but whatever is happening is not right…”
His YouTube account ‘Paras Official’ is still active on which several other parody videos have been uploaded in the past one day, including ‘How to Look Indian?’, ‘Paras Official Coming to Itangar Arunachal Pradesh’, ‘Paras Official Arrested by Arunachal Police’, ‘Controversy Explained, Sorry North East’ among others.
The latest one on the channel is his mother’s video in which she is apologising for her son, titled ‘Mere Bete ko Maaf Kardo’. She says, “I want to apologise on my son’s behalf… main sabhi se haath jod kar maafi maangti hu…”
She further says, “He made a video in which some words which he used have hurt some people. Even I felt bad and hurt about why he used such words. Wo baccha hai, usey maaf kar dijiye…Police has taken him away. He is my only son. He is my only support and his father had also died. I beg to everyone that please forgive him. Wo baccha hai, aage se jo video daalega soch samajh kar daalega. Mere bete ko maaf kar dijiye… Aage se aisi galti nahi hogi…”
A senior Ludhiana police officer said, “The boy is claiming innocence and saying that whatever he posted was unintentional. He never meant to hurt anyone. He is the only breadwinner of his family.”
Ludhiana CP Rakesh Agrawal said, “We have taken him into preventive custody after receiving a request from Arunachal police. Their team is awaited to take his custody.”
“The video was in public domain and many people, including our cyber cell noticed it,” said Arunachal Pradesh DGP Upadhyaya, adding: “He has been booked for promoting racial hatred and sedition because he also made a few comments on the the location of Arunachal Pradesh on the map of India.” In the FIR, MLA Ering said the comments by Paras were “not acceptable at all” and it has “hurt the sentiments of entire North East, especially Arunachal Pradesh.”
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