According to his friends, Munawar Faruqui was "shaken" with a foreboding that something might happen after the video of his April 2020 performance, which led to FIRs against Faruqui, and hashtags trended on social media demanding his arrest.
Munawar Faruqui was detained following a complaint by members of a right-wing vigilante group in India. He was denied bail twice despite officials saying they had no video evidence of him "insulting" Hindu deities.
On January 1st, 2021, police arrested Faruqui and four others at Monroe's Cafe', India's central city of Indore, where the comedians planned to perform.
Now Munawar Faruqui to be arrested by UP Police in FIR against him in 2020.
— Mahmood Rashid Khanمحمود (@mahmoodrk3) January 18, 2021
Some critics say that Indian comedian Munawar Faruqui's arrest is an attack on freedom of speech. As he continues confinement without bail, the well-known comedian now awaits his fate in two states after being arrested for allegedly insulting Hindu deities. Each investigation potentially carries a four-year prison term. But no evidence exists to justify the arrest.
Before Faruqui's act even began, a vigilante mob led by Eklavya Singh Gaur ordered them to halt the performance. A commotion ensued as Faruqui and company were reportedly roughed up by the mob before being detained by police midway through the New Year's Day performance. There were no charges filed against the alleged attackers.
Eklavya Singh Gaur is the son of legislature Malini Guar (Mayor of Indore). He said he and his associates were in the audience when the comedian made the objectionable remarks. Guar filed a complaint against them.
The court rejected bail requests based on Guar's claim to have overheard jokes during rehearsal. But Guar lied to Article 14 when he also professed to have recorded evidence.
On January 13th, Officer Khatri denied that police had any such video proof against Faruqui, but he defended Faruqui's arrest. Khatri praised the Hindu vigilantes for being 'active and alert.'
He added, 'it didn't really matter' if Faruqui was innocent of the allegations. A video surfaced of Faruqui's performance in April 2020. Officer Khatri said the video, where the comedian found humor in a popular Hindi song, also proves Faruqui's 'intent' in the 2021 case. "They were going to do it, anyway," he added.
Despite Khatri's admissions about the thin to non-existent evidence linking the accused to the crime, all six continue to be in judicial custody. On January 13th, they extended judicial custody by two more weeks.
The courts charged the six accused under sections 295-A, 298, 269, 188, and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, for "deliberately intending to outrage religious feelings," for "uttering words, etc. with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings, and for "acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention." Punishment includes up to four years in prison if convicted.
Gayatri Singh, a senior counsel at the Bombay High Court, said that the judge had gone "beyond the framework of the law."
Singh said the FIR did not contain any specific remarks that Faruqui or others had allegedly made against Hindu religious sentiment. "The police should have stated out the exact words used by the accused, what the intention was, and the harm or injury caused by the words," said Singh.
Singh said bail should have granted bail to all the accused. "Bail as a right is a rule and not an exception," she said. "You cannot arbitrarily decide whether you want to grant it or not. It is only in exceptional circumstances that bail can be refused."