Munawar Faruqui Case: Why Are Four Co-Accused Still Behind Bars?
While Sadaqat Khan’s bail plea was rejected twice, Vyas and Anthony’s bail hearings are scheduled for February 12.
After more than a month in jail, while standup comedian Munawar Faruqui was recently granted interim bail by the Supreme Court on 5 February, his four co-accused are still behind bars.
Besides Faruqui, Nalin Yadav (25), Sadaqat Khan (23), Edwin Anthony (25) and Prakhar Vyas (23) were arrested mid-way through a standup show in Bhopal, over allegations of derogatory remarks being made on Hindu deities and Home Minister Amit Shah. These arrests have drawn a great deal of criticism as the police have failed to furbish any video evidence of it.
In fact, MP’s top cop Vijay Khatri even admitted that the arrests were not made over any offensive jokes made during the show but over what they intended to say. Even though the police said these arrests were on the basis of “oral evidence”, the arbitrary nature of the arrests itself has been reproved.
However, while Sadaqat Khan’s bail plea was rejected twice, Vyas and Anthony’s bail hearing are scheduled for February 12.
What are the allegations against the four and why are they still in jail?
What Are the Charges Against Munawar’s Co-Accused?
Yadav, Anthony and Vyas, who were associated with organising the show, were booked under IPC Section 295A (outraging religious feelings), 298 (deliberate intention to wound religious feelings), 269 (negligent behaviour that leads to the spread of a disease) and 188 (disobedience to order promulgated by public servant).
A day after their arrest, Faruqui’s friend Sadaqat Khan was also put behind bars on similar charges for allegedly making abusive remarks about the complainant, Ekalavya Singh Gaur, a local leader of a fringe right-wing group.
Sadaqat Khan’s Bail Plea Rejected Twice
Sadaqat Khan, who, according to The Indian Express, is a Mumbai-based civil contractor, had known Munawar for a while. He was in Indore visiting his ailing grandmother around the time Munawar had a show at the city’s Munrow Cafe.
Quoting his family members, the report says, "He had nothing to do with the show, nor did he crack any jokes. He was arrested from court the next day when he had gone to meet Munawar."
Khan's first bail plea was opposed by the Tukoganj Police who claimed that he had been organising similar standup shows for Faruqui and they have registered various complaints against him.
Khan's second bail plea was rejected by the District and Sessions court in Indore on 9 February by Additional Sessions Judge Yatindra Kumar Guru.
As per Live Law, the judge noted that there had been no change in circumstances after his first bail plea was rejected. Therefore, if his second bail application was allowed, it would amount to a 'review' of the previous order, which is not allowed in criminal law.
Even the judge said that since Faruqui had been granted interim bail, the benefit of parity cannot be extended to Khan for his regular bail.
Lawyers Claim 'False Allegations' Against Prakhar Vyas and Edwin Anthony
Prakhar Vyas and Edwin Anthony’s bail hearing is scheduled for February 12 before the High Court.
Prakhar’s brother Priyam Vyas who had been arrested on the same day as Faruqui has been granted bail by the juvenile court, as he was underage.
According to The Indian Express, Prakhar’s lawyer, Ajay Bagadiya, said the main allegations against his client are that 18 calls were made between Prakhar and Munawar from March 2020 to 21 January 2021, which the police are looking at in order to establish a connection between the two.
Further, the police said Prakhar appeared on stage after Munawar and allegedly made remarks which disrupted communal harmony. “These are allegations we will dispute before the court,” the report quoted Bagadiya as saying.
Anthony, who is reportedly an MBA student, was arrested for being at the ticket counter where the show was supposed to be held. Although his family has refused to speak to the media, a report on Hindustan Times quoted his lawyer Jintendra Bajpai as saying, “He has been arrested for being at the ticket counter to sell the tickets of the show. This accusation is completely false because the tickets were sold online and there was no ticket counter.”
Nalin Vyas’ 'Brother Working to Pay Legal Fees'
Nalin Yadav’s bail plea is pending before the Supreme Court. A report on Hindustan Times says that Yadav had dropped out of college to become a comedian.
But since his arrest, his younger brother who is all of 17-years-old is now working to pay off the legal fees.
“My brother is being punished for being one of the performers at the show...he did not perform. After Class 12, my mother wanted him to continue his studies, but he chose his passion. We faced many financial difficulties, but we always feel proud of my brother. After the sudden demise of my mother, my brother took up all the responsibilities. But now, I am left alone,” said Akash Yadav, Hindustan Times quoted him as saying.
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