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India: Comedians arrested for allegedly ‘hurting religious sentiments’

27 January 2021
Image: Poster of Munawar Faruqui’s tour / Munawar Faruqui on Facebook

 

13 January 2021: The Indore sessions court extended the judicial custody for another two weeks and rejected bail petitions of three Indian comedians arrested on 1 January 2021 for alleged “hurting religious sentiment” during the stand-up performance, reported The Wire.

Comedians Munawar Faruqui, Prakhar Vyas and Nalin Yadav were arrested on 1 January after Eklavya Gaud, son of BJP MLA Malini Laxman Singh Gaud filed a complaint against the artists for alleged “hurting religious sentiment” in remarks about Hindu deities during the show.

This is allegedly visible in Gaud’s video footage, where the comedian reportedly insulted Hindu gods and goddesses and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Faruqui and Yadav’s lawyer, Anshuman Shrivastav told The Wire that the video in question is not from the Indore show, but from a video shot that took place four years ago.

According to The Hindu, among other accusations, comedians were arrested under the Indian Penal Code, sections 295-A  on deliberate acts to outrage religious feelings and section 269 on negligent act that is likely to spread disease dangerous to life.

The comedians were detained alongside two others, allegedly family members and friends of the artists.

Freemuse’s State of Artistic Freedom 2020 report mentions that after a landslide election victory for the Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2019, free expression in India has seen restrictions and attacks.

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