Comedian Munawar Faruqui, along with four others had been arrested for allegedly hurting religious sentiments during a New Year show at a cafè in the popular 56 Duukan Area of Indore. The complaint was filed by Eklavya Singh Gaur, son of Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Malini Gaur and convener of Hind Rakshak Sangathan. He also accused Faruqui of cracking jokes on Home Minister, Amit Shah and linking him to 2002 Godhra riots.
Munawar Faruqui is a serial offender. We got the information about a show of Faruqui in Indore. We reached there and saw that they were making fun of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. We also recorded a video. We stopped the show and asked people to leave the show. They did not take permission for the show. They also violated social distancing rules, Gaur said to the media.
According to Gaur, he and his associates had gone to watch the show and when they heard the "indecent" comments, they forced the organisers to stop the programme.
The police have registered an FIR against Faruqui and his associates from Indore under Sections 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 298, 269 (unlawful or negligent act likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life), 188 & 34 of the IPC. Lawyer Dinesh Pandey represented Eklavya Gaur in the court.
Meanwhile, an audience member, Jenosha Agnes took to Instagram to share what really happened during the show while denying any indecent remarks or comments made by the comedian. She wrote: “As Munawar arrived on the stage, few people with political connections rushed to the stage, snatched the mic and began saying “hamare religious sentiments hurt hue hai… Godhra kand per joke kiya… Hamare devi devta ka mazak udaya… Islam pe joke q nahi karta hai”.
She then added, “Munawar politely clarified that he never had the intention to hurt anyone. He handled the situation very well and they backed off”. A few minutes later, a crowd entered the hall and the organisers backed out. Then police arrived and arrested Faruqui and others. “No derogatory remarks were made by Munawar Faruqui at the Indore show,” she said.
Soon after this incident, a video footage of a conversation between Gaur and Faruqui went viral on social media where Gaur is accusing Faruqui of hurting his religious sentiments while Faruqui is trying to politely convince Gaur that that he had no intention to do so.
Soon after this, the police entered the scene and arrested Faruqui along with four others including event coordinator namely, Edvin Anthony, Prakhar Vyas, Priyam Vyas and Nalin Yadav.
According to some reports and the accounts of the people who witnessed the incident, no derogatory remarks on Hindu Gods or Home Minister were made by the comedian. Faruqui was only halfway narrating his experience about a Delhi Wedding, as mentioned by one of the audience member. Town Inspector of Tukoganj Police Station Kamlesh Sharma said that they had no video evidence against them, as per the report of The Indian Express. He also added that, “the two videos submitted by the complainant are of another comedian with him allegedly cracking jokes on Lord Ganesha.”
Meanwhile, several fellow comedians and celebrities including Varun Grover, Vir Das, Kaneez Surkha, Agrima Joshua, Kubbra Sait and Rohan Joshi took to the social media against Faruqui’s arrest. Comedian Rohan Joshi shared a video on Instagram of Faruqui trying to reason with the people who said they were offended by his jokes. “Turns out now you can just assault people while they’re doing their job and the cops will take ‘them’ to the police station,” Joshi wrote.
Comedian Kaneez Surka and Abish Mathew also shared the clip of Faruqui on Instagram.
Actor and comedian Vir Das tweeted, “You can’t stop jokes and laughter, Not because comedians are performing it, but because people need to laugh. Harder you try, the more you’re going to be laughed at, now, and by history. Anyone who has ever tried to control humour, now has a category of jokes devoted to them.”
He also posted a screenshot of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet about humour, “I think we need more satire and humour. Humour brings happiness in our lives. Humour is the best healer."
Varun Grover shared the video footage of Faruqui on his Instagram story. “A fellow Indian, a fellow comedian is in jail and got beaten up by a mob because of the words he uttered,” Grover wrote. “Here he’s trying to logically, calmly present his case but our systems now just want to brutally silence every voice.” He also added, “They don’t want to hear, they don’t want to even argue, they want to simply erase every shred of individual thought, every iota of reason. And we the people of the greatest civilization of earth are ok with it.”
Faruqui and four others who had been arrested were allegedly assaulted on their way to jail after court proceedings.
Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Aman Singh Bhuria refused to grant bail to Faruqui and other four and remanded them in judicial custody till January 13.