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UP’s NSA cases revoked by New Delhi: Cartoon reprint, WhatsApp upload

The last of these was Bajrang Dal leader Vivek Premi, booked for allegedly beating up and parading a Muslim man in Shamli.

In 2015, the NDA government at the Centre revoked charges under the National Security Act in three cases against seven individuals booked by the Uttar Pradesh government. The last of these was Bajrang Dal leader Vivek Premi, booked for allegedly beating up and parading a Muslim man in Shamli, and whose reprieve from NSA on December 31 was reported by The Indian Express.

The other two cases, relating to creating communal tension, were lodged in Gonda and Kannauj. The case in Gonda, in which five men were booked under NSA, is about a news article about the Prophet in a local magazine that also reprinted cartoons by French magazine Charlie Hebdo. The Kannauj case, with one accused, is about a WhatsApp post about the Prophet that triggered local protests. All six accused are now out of jail after charges under NSA were withdrawn.

READ | Bajrang Dal leader Vivek Premi, who beat up & paraded Muslim, is out of NSA net

The five accused in Gonda include two Muslims — brothers Imran and Iftikhar Ali, who own an offset press that printed the concerned edition of local Hindi magazine The Truth of Crime. Durgesh Singh works at the press, Sunil Kumar Tripathi is the editor the magazine, and Amit Kumar Dubey is publisher and owner.

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The article for which the five were arrested, according to police records, was published in January last year. They were booked in a case at City Kotwali police station under various IPC sections including those for promoting religious enmity, sale of obscene books, and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings. The district administration invoked NSA in February-March; the state government approved this on April 23.

The accused went into appeal and the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a direction on July 24 to revoke the charges under NSA. The NSA charges have been dropped and the five are now out of jail, district magistrate Ajay Kumar Upadhyay said.

Editor Tripathi told The Indian Express that the article was not intended to hurt the sentiments of any religion. “Some local political leaders made an issue out of it and distorted the facts. The article was published following the attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. We carried a few cartoons from Charlie Hebdo,” said Tripathi.

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In the other case, the WhatsApp post about the Prophet was uploaded in September, allegedly by Saurabh Agarwal who works with an insurance firm in Gursahaiganj, Kannauj. Protesters forced shopkeepers to shut in various parts of the city and gheraoed the police station. The police lodged an FIR against 100 unidentified persons for rioting; no one has been arrested.

District administration records show NSA charges were invoked on September 15, approved by the state on September 24, and by the UP Advisory Board on October 20. Following Saurabh’s appeal, the district administration received a directive from the home ministry on December 30 to revoke the NSA charges. District magistrate Anuj Kumar Jha said Saurabh is out of jail.

Investigating officer Ramesh Chandra Pandey said the chargesheet could not be filed because the state government has not given sanction to prosecute Saurabh.

 

First published on: 11-01-2016 at 03:15:43 am
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