A 26-year-old man from north Kashmir’s Kupwara was arrested by the Haryana police, in central India, on Saturday for uploading a video of a Pakistani leader’s speech about Kashmir and militancy on his WhatsApp status, reported the Indian Express.
Identified as Mohammad Kazafi, a resident of Dildaar village in Kupwara district, works as a security guard at a hotel on Morni Road. The FIR was filed by Sukhdeep Singh, 28, a resident of Nada village at Chandimandir, Panchkula. In the FIR, the newspaper reported, he alleged that a WhatsApp status shared by the accused showed “a Pakistani leader giving a speech. The leader in the speech talks of Kashmir’s independence, praises Kashmiri terrorist Burhan (Wani) and insults the Indian Army…This may lead to a situation of conflict in society and is arising the feeling of enmity which is adversely affecting the integrity of the country”.
Mr. Kazafi was booked under non-bailable Section 153-A of the Indian Penal Code which states that “whoever promotes or attempts to promote disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both”.
“We had received a complaint last night and arrested the accused within hours. The complainant has a tea stall outside Nada Sahib gurdwara where the accused used to visit. Both had become friends over time,” said Inspector Deepak Kumar, SHO of Chandimandir police station. “We produced him in court today from where he was sent to judicial custody.”
Ankit Grewal, a lawyer at the Punjab and Haryana High Court, said, “The FIR will not stand in court. The FIR and arrest were only valid if his sharing of the video had led to some form of outage amid masses or created hatred in any form or caused violence. It is a colonial law being misused increasingly and selectively only to suppress dissent and the freedom of speech and expression in this country.”
Commenting on a rise in such cases, Mr. Grewal told the newpaper, “It is apparent that such cases are increasing every day. It was shocking when an FIR had been filed only last year against some Kashmiri students at Baddi. They are mindlessly registering such FIRs. They are especially being registered against minorities of the country and its activists. It has become a trend.”