On April 15, a Shiv Sena leader Akshay Vijay Panvelkar has written to the senior police inspector of the Bandra Police Station, asking him to take action against political commentators Shefali Vaidya and Sunaina Holey, for speaking against the role of Tablighi Jamaat in endangering public health and safety and highlighting the failure of the Uddhav Thackeray government to prevent the massive gathering at Bandra.
In the letter, the saffron party member claimed that the duo was spreading “hatred messages against the other communities.” He also requested the cops to press charges under Indian Penal Code Sections IPC 153A (Promoting enmity between religious groups), IPC 295 (Defiling place of worship to insult a religion) and 295A (Deliberate and malignant act to outrage religious feelings )
Tweet by Shefali Vaidya
On April 14, migrant workers had gathered in large numbers at Ahle Sunnat Sunni Raza Jama Masjid near Bandra station, Mumbai, demanding to go back home as the nationwide lockdown got extended till May 3. It is crucial to remember that the Jamaatis had earlier flouted government orders and attended at a religious congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz between March 13 and March 15, resulting in a spike in the number of Wuhan Coronavirus cases in India.
Author Shefali Vaidya had compared the unprecedented scenario at Bandra to that of the Tablighi Jamaat’s religious event. She called out the Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for failing to stop the large gathering of migrant workers.
Tweet by Sunaina Holey
Swayamsevak Sunaina Holey was also targeted for voicing her opinion about the mass gathering at Bandra that took place in complete disregard to the nationwide lockdown. Criticising Uddhav Thackeray, she had asked whether the Chief Minister would blame the Prime Minister for the violation of social distancing guidelines. Holey also took a jibe at the reference of “single source” which is a ‘secularised version’ of the number of Coronavirus cases caused due to Tablighi Jamaat.
Crowd shouting YEH ALLAH KE TARAF SE NAHI HAI YEH MODI KE TARAF SE HAI. What’s going to happen next @OfficeofUT @AUThackeray @priyankac19? PR karona ab. Blame it on @narendramodi ji. Hain? Bandra Masjid Location Hai. Ab aur kuch bolu? Single Source Kaafi Hai. @Dev_Fadnavis Help🙏 pic.twitter.com/qQEHT4FNpk— Sunaina Holey (@mesunainah) April 14, 2020
Intimidation to Suppress Free Speech
The above tweets show only concern for a possible virus spread, just like the Tablighi Jamaat congregation led to a sudden spike in positive cases across the nation, and calls out the Uddhav Thackeray government for lapses that had failed to prevent a massive gathering in Bandra. The Shiv Sena leaders seem not to have taken the criticism of their leader kindly.
Earlier, a non-cognizable offence against a doctor had been lodged by Aurangabad Police for allegedly sharing a post on social media terming the Tablighi Jamaat chief Maulana Mohammad Saad a ‘terrorist’. According to the police, the doctor had posted Saad’s photograph on social media with a caption, “Wanted, please inform your local police if you have any input about the location of this terrorist.”
Thackeray’s Shiv Sena has been trying various methods to intimidate those who criticise the CM or his family. Earlier, Shiv Sena goons had beat up a Mumbai man and had shaved his head in the public for speaking against Uddhav Thackeray.