A Muslim comedian in India has been jailed for the allegation of insulting Hindu gods. Comedian Munawar Faruqi has been in police custody for 25 days.
The Madhya Pradesh Court recently asserted that no evidence has been found to prove the allegations on Faruqi. However, the court had rejected his argument that he had not made offensive jokes about Hindu God and Goddesses, saying the investigation is underway and the police may find evidence. Faruqi was arrested with 6 other comedians on January 2nd on the complaint of Eklavya Singh Gaud, the son of BJP MLA. The court had rejected his bail application on January 28th, 2021.
Gaud had complained that the 29-year-old comedian had made “filthy and indecent jokes” about Hindu God and Indian Home Minister Amit Shah.
Standup comic Munawar Faruqi is in jail for a joke he didn’t crack but could have. A journalist can be in jail today for an article he didn’t write but could have. A singer can be jailed for a song of azaadi she didn’t sing but could have. The assault on our thoughts has begun.
— Pritish Nandy (@PritishNandy) January 23, 2021
“The evidence/material collected so far suggests that in an organized public show under the garb of standup comedy at a public place on commercial lines, prima facie, scurrilous, disparaging utterances, outraging religious feelings of a class of citizens of India with deliberate intendment were made by the applicant,” said the court order.
The lawyers of Faruqi argued in the court that he was invited to the show but he did not make any indecent joke. Adding that, Faruqi had not even started his stint when the show was stopped by Gaud.
The police, however, had said that they have found no evidence that Faruqi has committed the crime. In fact, Gaud had “overheard some jokes” which the comedian was preparing was for the show.
I’m sorry Munawwar.. this country and its institutions and your fellow citizens have let you down. I’m sorry and I’m ashamed. #munawarfaruqi
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) January 25, 2021
“He was arrested for jokes he didn’t crack. Faruqi hadn’t even begun the show when he was interrupted. A presumption of and anticipation of a so-called criminal act cannot be an offense. The police registered a case and arrested him without verifying the facts,” argued the comedian’s lawyer.
However, the court is reluctant to give the decision as of now. Justice Rohit Arya in his statement has said “In the light of the statements of the complainant and the witnesses referred above, the seized articles, video footage of the show and the seizure memos detailed above, at this stage, it is difficult to countenance to the submissions of the learned counsel for the applicant as the complacency of the applicant cannot be ruled out, besides vulnerability of his acts in the public domain.”
There has been upheaval on Indian Twitter regarding the proceedings of the case. The Twitter users have slammed the Indian court and investigative agency for unlawfully imprisoning the comedian without evidence.