Gujarat Man Lynched For ‘Blasphemous’ Facebook Post, Maulvi Held For Supplying Weapon
Two men in their 20s, Shabbir and Imitiaz, have been arrested for the murder along with Maulvi Ayyub.
The fanaticism over ‘blasphemy of Islam’ has reared its ugly head again. A man from Gujarat has been killed for a social media post that allegedly offended Muslims.
After three days of investigation, the Gujarat police have arrested a Maulvi along with two Muslim youths for the murder.
Kishan Boliya, 27, was a resident of Dhandhuka town, about 100 kilometres from Ahmedabad city.
On 25 January, he was shot dead by two motorcycle-borne men in Dhandhuka’s Modhwala area. Kishan was riding pillion with his brother, as per a press note by Gujarat police released yesterday (28 January).
The police have identified the two assailants as Mohammad Shabbir, 25, and Mohammad Imitiaz Pathan, 27. As per police, it was Shabbir who fired the shots. Both are residents of Dhandhuka, police say.
A third person arrested in the murder is a Maulvi named Mohammad Ayyub Javrawala, 51, a resident of Jamalpur area of Ahmedabad. The police say he radicalised Muslim youths to kill in the name of Islam and provided ammunition for Kishan’s murder.
On 6 January, Kishan uploaded a video on his Facebook account.
Swarajya has seen the video, which happens to be a widely circulated one on Whatsapp. It starts with a picture of Jesus with the text – ‘I am son of God – Jesus’. This is followed by a depiction of Mohammad with the text – ‘I am Messenger of God – Mohammad’. Next, the video says – ‘Aapke father aye hai (your father is here)’ and shows a picture of Krishna.
Angered by it, some Muslims reached the police station saying the video offended them.
The Dhandhuka police filed a first information report (FIR) against Kishan on 9 January. Kishan was booked under IPC sections 153A (promoting enmity), 295A (deliberately outraging sentiments), 298 (word or gesture to wound religious sentiments) and 114 (abettor of crime even if absent).
Nitin Chauhan, a senior Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) functionary in Dhandhuka, told Swarajya that Kishan was arrested and granted bail the next day. Mindful of the threat to his life, Kishan did not step out of the house for two weeks.
“Kishan stayed confined inside the house for 15 days. It was only on 25 January that he went out for the first time,” said Chauhan.
He said that after his bail, Kishan made a video from his house, clarifying that his video was not meant to hurt anybody’s sentiments, and uploaded it on his social media account (Swarajya has not seen this video).
Kishan died on the spot after sustaining bullet shots.
The Gujarat police made the arrests on 28 January. The press note by the police says that Shabbir, who works as a welder, is something of a religious fanatic.
The note says that Shabbir became radical in his ideology after he came in contact with a Delhi-based cleric (the note does not mention the cleric’s name), who subsequently introduced Shabbir to Ahmedabad-based maulvi Javrawala. Shabbir had been in discussions with the clerics on Islamic punishment for ‘blasphemers’.
Shabbir met Javrawala a few days before the murder. It was in one of these meeting that the maulvi arranged a weapon and cartridges for killing Kishan, the note says.
The police are also investigating the role of the Delhi-based Maulvi.
Shabbir has a prior police case against him for dacoity, the note says.
Gujarat’s Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi met the family on Friday (28 Jaunary). He posted pictures of his visit on his Twitter account, assuring swift action.
Yet another blasphemy killing
The existing laws against criticism of religions or religious figures in Indian Penal Code have their roots in a blasphemy case in 1920s.
Some Muslims groups brought out pamphlets insulting Hindu deities. In response, Mahashay Rajpal, an Arya Samaji, published a booklet titled ‘Rangila Rasool’. The booklet was a satirical take on Islam founder Mohammad’s life.
Angered Muslims filed a case against Rajpal. The British Penal Code that was in existence that time, had sections 295 and 298 that dealt with defiling of places of worship and hate speech respectively. Rajpal was tried in court but was acquitted as his act did not fall under any of these crimes.
To pacify Muslims, the British introduced 295A to criminalise ‘deliberately outraging sentiments’.
However, fanatic Muslim groups were adamant on punishing Rajpal. They began to hold rallies against him. A 19-year-old carpenter named Ilm-ud-Din, radicalised by the speeches, bought a knife from a shop and stabbed an unguarded Rajpal at his book shop.
Ilm-Ud-Din is hailed as a ‘ghazi’ in Pakistan and has roads and institutions named after him. At least three films glorifying his murderous act have been made in Pakistan.
Kishan’s murder is continuation of this zeal in the fanatic section of the Muslim community to deliver mob justice for insulting Islam.
After partition, Pakistan, like India, inherited the British Penal Code. However, successive Pakistani governments added to the religious criticism laws. In the 1980s, defiling of Quran and criticism of Mohammad and his companions were criminalised as well. Of these, criticism of Mohammad was made punishable by death.
Two weeks ago, a Pakistani woman named Aneeqa Ateeq was handed death penalty by a sessions court for putting up a ‘blasphemous’ WhatsApp status.
In Pakistan, extra-judicial killings of blasphemers are shockingly high. As per human rights reports, at least 52 people facing trial for blasphemy have been lynched since 1992.
In the latest such killing in December 2021, a large Muslim crowd lynched a man to death and burnt his body only minutes after a rumour spread that he had insulted Quran by tearing off a poster with Quranic verses written on it. The man, Priyantha Kumara, was identified as a Sri Lankan by birth and Christian by faith. Kumara was supervisor at a factory in Sialkot. Videos emerged of people calling him a “kaafir” while carrying out the dastardly crime.
In India, such killings and sentiments to kill over blasphemy seem to be on the rise.
In 2010, a college professor in Kerala facing trial for insulting Mohammad (case filed under 295A besides other IPC sections) was brutally attacked by a group of Muslim. TJ Joseph survived the attack that left his wrist severed from his body. Though doctors managed to sew the wrist, he remains handicapped. Joseph was later acquitted by the court. Last year, his autobiography detailing what he went through was released in English.
In October 2019, Uttar Pradesh resident Kamlesh Tiwari, also facing trial for insulting Mohammad (case filed under 295A besides other IPC sections), was killed by two men from Gujarat at his office.
In 2021, several rallies were taken out in various Indian cities by Muslim groups advocating beheading as mob punishment for a man facing trial for insulting Mohammad. The rallies were taken out in Bareilly, Ajmer and Jammu besides other cities.
The protesters carried pictures of ’blasphemer‘ Yati Narsinghanand and raised slogans that there is only one punishment for insulting Mohammad and that is beheading.
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