A court in Madhya Pradesh has refused to grant bail to stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui, who was arrested in Indore for allegedly cracking jokes on Hindu deities and Home Minister Amit Shah.
According to news agency PTI, Additional District and Sessions court judge Yatindra Kumar Guru rejected the bail plea of Faruqui and another accused Nalin Yada after hearing the arguments of both sides.
Faruqui was arrested with four others, identified as Edwin Anthony, Prakhar Vyas, Priyam Vyas and Nalin Yadav. Twitter had erupted in support of the comedian from Gujarat. The police in Indore had acted swiftly on the complaint of one Eklavya Singh Gaur, the son of BJP MLA Malini Laxman Singh Gaur.
On Tuesday, Faruqui’s lawyer, Anshuman Shrivastava, said that the allegations levelled against his clients were “vague” in nature, adding that he had been arrested under political pressure. Shrivastava denied allegations that Faruqui and Yadav made any comment that hurt the religious feelings of any person.
Prosecution lawyer Vimal Mishra said that the event was held without any permission from local administration amidst the pandemic. He also alleged that indecent remarks were made against Hindu deities at the event, which he claimed was ‘full of obscenity despite the presence of minor boys and girls among the audience.’
Faruqui’s arrest had evoked widespread condemnation from comedians and the Bollywood fraternity. Saif Ali Khan’s co-star Kubbra Saith had tweeted, “#MunawarFaruqui how insensitive is our leadership to be sentimental towards jokes?” Comedian-writer Varun Grover had taken to his Instagram page to write, “A fellow Indian, a fellow comedian is in jail and got beaten up by a mob because of the words he uttered. Here he’s trying to logically, calmly present his case but our systems now just want to brutally silence every voice.”
Comedian Vir Das had 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.”