Richa Bharti Arrested Within Hours Of Complaint But Activists Say No Action Against Muslims For Similar Social Media Posts

by Arihant Pawariya - Jul 23, 2019 11:18 PM +05:30 IST
Richa Bharti Arrested Within Hours Of Complaint But Activists Say No Action Against Muslims For Similar Social Media PostsRicha Bharti, a victim of Jharkhand Police’s discriminatory practices.
  • Activists have filed multiple police complaints against Muslim youths for offensive social media posts targeting Hindus, but nothing has been done about it.

    Will the police take any such action against Muslim offenders? Going by its past record, it seems unlikely.

On 12 July (Friday), Anjuman Committee of Pithoriya in Ranchi filed a police complaint against 19-year-old girl Richa Bharti for her supposedly incendiary Facebook posts, which the complainants argued hurt their religious sentiments.

The Jharkhand Police arrested the teenager on the same day.

She remained in the lock up until Monday evening.

The magistrate at the local court who ordered her bail put the condition of distributing five copies of Quran to local libraries which was recanted later.

The speed with which the police acted surprised everyone. “I think I was arrested within an hour or so of their complaint. In my case, everything happened really fast. I felt as if I had murdered someone. I was in jail for three days — from Friday evening to Monday evening,” Bharati told Swarajya in an interview.

What outraged her more was the discriminatory manner in which the administration acted. She said that “a lot of comments have been made against my religion too” and gave examples of Muslim youths posting offensive comments against whom hardly any action is taken.

She is right. In Ranchi itself, social activists have filed many cases against Muslim youths in the past few months for posting hurtful content against Hindus and their deities. But Jharkhand Police’s inaction on these cases has riled the locals especially in the light of how swiftly they acted in the case of Richa Bharti.

On 28 June, social activist Amrit Raman filed a complaint with Ranchi’s Kotwali thana against one Mojahid Pathan for using abusive and vulgar speech against Hindu deity Shri Ram.

Raman told the police that despite repeated warnings to Pathan not to post such comments, he didn’t budge and rather became more aggressive.

A case was registered under section 295(a) and 153(a) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and an investigating officer assigned on the same day (Case number 174/2019) but Raman says that no action has been taken till date.

Richa Bharti Arrested Within Hours Of Complaint But Activists Say No Action Against Muslims For Similar Social Media Posts

A similar case was filed by Sunny Kumar Sahu and Vipul Mishra against Syed Ajju on 4 July in Ranchi’s Sukhdev Nagar thana. The complainants pleaded that Ajju was insulting Hindu deity Shri Ram and Mata Sita, which is offensive to their community and his Facebook posts and comments have the potential to spark a communal riot and disturb peace in the areas, and Hindus are feeling outraged over the statements he has made on social media.

The police filed a case under section 295 of the IPC on the same day but activists say that no action is being taken by the police.

(Swarajya has images of Syed Ajju’s posts but is not posting them owing to their profane and vulgar content).

Amrit Raman along with Nikhil Sharma, Shubham Purohit and others also filed a complaint with Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Ranchi, in a letter dated 4 July, requesting him to take action against one Salim Chisty, who was allegedly posting hurtful comments for months and creating communal divide in the society. They also complained that Chisty spread fake news about Bharat Bandh by Muslims in protest against lynching of Tabrez Ansari in Saraikela.

In the same letter, Raman and others also forewarned the police about possible ruckus that mobs may create on 5 July in Ranchi.

They had also provided details of the organiser, Dr Maulana Abdullah, and requested to take some preventive measures for the rally scheduled on 5 July against mob-lynching of Ansari.

What the complainants feared happened when thousands of Muslims who took to the streets in the evening that day after the rally and created ruckus, assaulted innocents and almost ‘lynched’ a bus full of engineering students.

Richa Bharti Arrested Within Hours Of Complaint But Activists Say No Action Against Muslims For Similar Social Media Posts

In August 2018, the state police filed an FIR against Kacchap Jyoti Deep for condoning the death of an Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) karyakarta and boasting about hosting a beef party in celebration. The complaint was lodged by Rohit Parmar and others in Argora thana of Ranchi.

In 2017, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) member Kush Kumar wrote a letter to police complaining about one Sahil Malik, who posted falsely in a WhatsApp group that Kumar was a Bajrang Dal member who was behind the killing of a Muslim man suspected to be in possession of prohibited meat.

Richa Bharti Arrested Within Hours Of Complaint But Activists Say No Action Against Muslims For Similar Social Media Posts

“The administration does accept our complaints but doesn’t convert them into FIRs on its own. Unless we exert a lot of pressure and constantly prod them, they don’t do it. They try to manage these cases by making excuses, saying the IT cell will look into it or they say that they are verifying the social media profile and so on,” says Amrit Raman.

“There is definitely discrimination. Though the BJP is in power, they also have ministers in the government who shield them. Otherwise, what could be the reason that the people who have made hurtful comments are roaming freely in Ranchi under the nose of police without any fear of consequences,” he adds.

Another social activist Sunny Kishore, who filed a complaint on 4 July, says the reason for not taking action against people from Muslim community could be because of vote bank politics of the government.

“BJP government toh hai par sirf naam ka he reh gaya hai. Use kiya hai humko aur kuch nahi. People vote thinking it’s a Hindu party. It’s not that we are asking them to do something illegal for us. We are simply requesting to follow the law. If a case is filed against our community, police takes action against us within hours but when we file complaint against them, they make excuses,” he says.

Kishore is associated with RSS and was earlier also a part of ABVP.

Kishore says that while the government gave compensation to Ansari, no such thing was done in the case of two brothers, who were attacked by a Muslim mob on 5 July.

“Deepak and Vivek Srivastav were brutally attacked by a mob on 5 July with knives. One of them got his lung punctured. They are admitted to hospital. We are trying to help the family at our own level. We volunteers collected around Rs 1 lakh for them by pooling money from different RSS shakhas,” he said.

Even today (23 July), Neeraj Pandey, an activist, has filed a complaint against one Saim Khan at Lalpur police station in Ranchi. Khan had boasted in one of the comments on social media that 10 Muslims made the whole Mumbai weep while (Hindus) are double-faced terrorists, and 50 come together to attack one person.

Will the police take any action? Going by its past record, it seems unlikely.

Arihant Pawariya is Senior Editor, Swarajya.
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