The Delhi Police on Thursday said they had received a complaint against Hindi actor Swara Bhaskar, Twitter India MD Manish Maheshwari, and others, at the Tilak Marg Police Station regarding tweets about a viral video from Ghaziabad of a Muslim man being attacked, ANI reported.
ANI added that the police said the case is “under inquiry”.
This comes after an FIR was filed by the Uttar Pradesh Police late on Tuesday night against Twitter Inc and Twitter Communications India, along with media organisation The Wire, co-founder of the fact-checking website AltNews Mohammad Zubair, journalist Rana Ayyub, Congress leaders Salman Nizami, Maskoor Usmani, Shama Mohamed, and writer Saba Naqvi.
The FIR has been registered under sections 153 (provocation for rioting), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 295A (acts intended to outrage religious feelings), 505 (mischief), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intention).
In a video that went viral on Monday, some Hindu men, including Pravesh Gujjar, are seen attacking an elderly Muslim man with wooden sticks, slapping him and forcibly chopping his beard off. The victim, 72-year-old Abdul Samad, said to NDTV that on June 5 the attackers abducted him from an autorickshaw and dragged him to a hut in a nearby forested area, where they reportedly shouted ‘Jai Shri Ram‘ and ‘Vande Mataram’ and forced him to chant the same as well.
But the UP Police denied any communal angle in the case and said Samad was attacked by six men, both Hindus and Muslims, who were not satisfied with the amulets or tabeez he had sold them. Samad’s family, however, claimed that they were carpenters and denied any relation to the amulets business, according to The Wire.
“I can believe a bunch of Muslims beat up an old Muslim man, but forced him to chant #JaiShriRam and cut off his beard?! That really the whole story? Anyway.. Love how Sanghis [are] conveniently ignoring the prime accused that Pravesh who beat the old man and forced him to chant,” Swara Bhaskar tweeted.
“RW & Sanghis vomiting on my timeline ‘coz Ghaziabad police named 3 Muslims. Jackasses the prime accused is literally a Pravesh Gujjar. The man is on camera forcing the old man to chant #JaiShriRam. Yes it is a desecration of my God and my religion and I’m ashamed.. as should you be,” she further tweeted.
According to The Wire article, the FIR lodged against the attackers did not mention any communal crimes despite Samad’s complaint mentioning it.
Sharing this article Bhaskar, tweeted asking “Dear RW scum” to investigate the claims.
Several journalists, Congress leaders and media organisations, including Ayyub, Zubair, Shama, Naqvi, Usmani, Nizami and The Wire, tweeted on the issue and covered the news, based on which the FIR has been registered against them.
The FIR stated that despite UP Police’s declaration of no communal angle in the violence, the accused spread false news without verifying it. It further charged that their tweets and news articles were posted with the intention of disturbing the peace in the society and inciting communal differences.
On Wednesday, Ayyub wrote on Twitter that the tweets she had shared earlier about the attack on Abdul were “based on a video and various news reports, published by print and electronic media, including the Indian Express, that were in wide circulation already. In view of the cops investigating the matter claiming a different narrative, I shall wait for the truth to prevail at the earliest. My endeavour remains as always to share news that highlights the truth and thereby promotes peace and harmony in our society. I hope the victim gets justice.”
Following the FIR, the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) tweeted in support of Ayyub and wrote: “Journalists must be able to do their jobs without fear of retaliation from authorities. We stand with Rana Ayyub as she faces unjust criminal complaints.”
Demanding the withdrawal of the FIR against The Wire, Ayyub and Zubair, IPI- The Global Network For Press Freedom also wrote: “Covering and sharing information on news events is not a crime. Criminal complaints against The Wire, Rana Ayyub and Mohammed Zubair over Ghaziabad incident should be withdrawn. They must also be seen in context of growing legal harassment of press in India.”