Indian Comedian Arrested on Accusations of Blasphemy

According to police, a Mumbai-based comedian, Munawar Faruqui, is alleged to have "mocked Hindu gods and goddesses" during his show. The Madhya Pradesh Police arrested and booked the comedian for alleged derogatory comments about Hindu deities on Saturday, January 1, 2021, NDTV reported. Authorities also allege the Monroe Cafe organizers presented the New Year's Day comedy event "without permission" from the city of Indore.

Authorities responded to Eklavya Gaur's complaints, the chief of a Hindu nationalist group in India, by lodging a First Information Report (FIR). Eklavya Gaur, the son of legislator Malini Guar (Mayor of Indore), reported to NDTV: "As soon as we came to know about this program, we bought tickets for the event and, we found that he [Faruqui] was making fun of Hindu gods and goddesses and the home minister, as he had done in the past."

After the show, Faruqui was reportedly roughed up by members of the Hindu nationalist group. The conflict arose between the Hindu nationalist group and the Monroe Cafe organizers during the comedian's performance, prior to police arriving to take him to the police station.  No charges have been filed against the alleged attackers.

The police advised that they are reviewing allegations that the cafe owners organized the stand-up comedy event without permission from city officials. They arrested four men in addition to the comedian performer, The Indian Express reported.

Two days after the performance & arrest, someone claiming to be part of the audience wrote on Instagram announcing that Faruqui made no derogatory remarks during the show. Even an officer of the law stated there was no video evidence to prove the comedian made any objectionable remarks.

The men were charged under section 269 (unlawful or negligent act likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life), section 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), among other related clauses within the Indian Penal Act.

The video revealing the incident is now viral on social media. The police advise they are reviewing the video footage from the event. "We are also examining the comments made by the comedian," the officer explained. "Based on that, we will investigate the matter."

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