On August 21, police arrested a man from the Malad suburb of Mumbai for Download a post about the Prophet Muhammad on WhatsApp Status considered “pejorative” for an acquaintance who reported him to a lawyer.
The lawyer, Salim Choudhari, filed a complaint with Dindoshi police on August 19, saying he learned of “derogatory” status photos and video – from an acquaintance. The police arrested the man, a real estate agent, and brought him before a criminal court, which placed him in custody for two days.
The lawyer also shared screenshots of the content of his complaint following which a first information report was filed by the police. The man was charged under Sections 295A (willful and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) and 67A (transmitting material containing sexually explicit acts) of the Information Technology Act.
Killings following social media posts about the Prophet Muhammad
The arrest comes months after at least two people died following social media posts by the Prophet Muhammad. Kanhaiya Lal, a Hindu tailor, was brutally killed by Islamists for giving support to embattled former BJP leader Nupur Sharma. Sharma had been the target of Islamists’ ire after Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair hissed at her, setting off an ugly chain of events as Islamists went wild shouting ‘Sar Tan Se Judah’ against Nupur Sharma and those who supported her. .
After killing the tailor, the killers shared a video explaining how they killed Kanhaiya Lal, brandishing their knives and saying they would kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the same way. Kanhaiya Lal had been receiving murder threats from Islamists for days over a social media post accidentally shared by his underage son. He was also arrested by the police. Although he reported to the police that his life was in danger, he received no protection. Hours after the horrific incident, the murderers were arrested in Rajasamand district.
Similarly, in Amravati, Maharashtra, a man named Umesh Kolhe faced violence for supporting Nupur Sharma for his comments on the Prophet Muhammad during a televised debate. Significantly, Kolhe was killed after a good friend of his, Yusuf Khan, incited the Islamists against him.
Umesh Kolhe’s friend Yusuf Khan had spotted Kolhe’s WhatsApp message supporting Nupur Sharma and spread it in other WhatsApp groups. He had also informed Sheikh Irfan Khan, who heads an NGO. Irfan Khan then plotted the murder and gave the responsibility of reconnaissance to Maulana Mudassir Ahmed alias Sonu Raza Sheikh Ibrahim. After that, Irfan Khan hired four day laborers Shahrukh Pathan, Abdul Taufiq, Shoaib Khan and Atib Rashid, who had worked for his NGO before, to carry out the plan.
On the night of June 21, Shoaib stabbed Umesh Kolhe in the neck. Initially, police said it was a robbery gone wrong, but after a change of government in Maharashtra, police admitted Kohle was killed for supporting Nupur Sharma.