On April 09, Balaghat Police arrested four men of Muslim community identified as Mateen Ajhari, Kasim Khan, Sohaib Khan and Raza Khan for pasting posters against Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati on Jama Masjid Road in the city. They were protesting against the Dasna temple priest for allegedly making statements against Prophet Muhammad.
It is pertinent to note that this arrest comes as a larger number of Muslims gathered at the Islamia Ground in Bareilly on 9th April, demanding for action against Yati Narsinghanand. Amid the slogans to behead the priest, clerics gave a speech asking for his arrest.
VHP and Bajrang Dal had filed the complaint
The arrest was made based on the complaint by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal. A case against the four was filed under Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
In the complaint, Rameshwar Rana, district in-charge of Bajrang Dal, said that he was heading towards the market to buy some vegetables along with his friends at around 11:30 AM. They spotted the four accused on the road alongside Jama Masjid, pasting Dasna priest’s posters and slapping them with shoes. He further alleged that the four men were also hurling abuses against the priest.
Durgesh Sharma, VHP, while talking to the media, said that Balaghat has been a peaceful district. However, some people are trying to disrupt peace. He said, “Some anti-social elements had pasted posters of Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati on the road and everyone was walking on them. They used unspeakable works against the priest. This has deeply hurt our religious sentiments.” He further added that if they wanted to register their opposition to something, they could have done it through a memorandum. “Such acts are not acceptable. This is why we got an FIR registered against them,” he said.
Police termed it as communally sensitive matter
Inspector Mansharam Romde of Kotwali police station confirmed that an FIR was registered against the four accused, and they have been arrested. He did not share more details as it was a communally sensitive matter.
AIMIM leader protested against the arrest
A delegation of five members of AIMIM wrote to police urging them to take legal action against Dasna priest for his remarks on April 1 at the Press Club of India. Nazim Khan, district-in-charge of AIMIM, said, “Instead of taking action against the saint who has hurt the sentiments of the entire Muslim community, four members of our community have been arrested for putting up his posters.” He further added that the right to peaceful protest had been turned down by the state government. “People often burn effigies, hit it with slippers to register their protest against anyone, including the Prime Minister, but no action has ever been taken,” he said.
Remarks by Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati on Islam
On April 1, Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, head priest of Dasna Devi Temple in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, had spoken at an event held at the Press Club of India when he urged Hindus to be fearless in highlighting the characteristics of Prophet Muhammad. “If Islam’s reality, for which Maulana says, ‘If you speak about Muhammad, we will behead you, Hindus should get rid of this fear. We are Hindus. If we can about the characteristics of Lord Ram, and other Hindu deities, then Muhammad is nothing for us. Why could not we speak about Muhammad and speak the truth?” Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati had exclaimed.
AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan called for the beheading of Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati as ‘punishment’ for criticising Prophet Muhammad. He also got an FIR registered against the priest in Delhi. Subsequently, FIRs were registered against Khan in Delhi and Ghaziabad for his call for the beheading of the priest.