Eklavya Singh Gaur is the son of Malini Gaur, a politician from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. He said he and his associates were in the audience when the comedian made the objectionable remarks. They created a ruckus and forced the event to stop, local media outlet NDTV reported.
Legal action in two states
The 28-year-old performer has been booked on suspicion of outraging religious feelings and helping the spread of disease.
He has also been asked to appear before a court in the state of Uttar Pradesh over an earlier case of “insulting” Hindu deities as well as senior BJP leader Amit Shah, local news publication The Wire reported
Nearly three weeks later, Faruqui has been denied bail by lower courts. His lawyers approached the Madhya Pradesh High Court last week but the hearing was adjourned after the police failed to produce the case diary.
A cynical, targeted attempt to keep #MunawarFaruqui in. He might now face arrest in Allahabad for an April 2020 case over an old video of his.— Kunal Purohit (@kunalpurohit) January 16, 2021
Details of case not known yet.
Remember: Indore cops say no evidence, no videos against him of having cracked jokes against Hindu gods https://t.co/Q9rNAhfWdE pic.twitter.com/cA5I0yLdlV
Talking to NDTV, Faruqui’s defender Anshuman Shrivastav said this was the result of police “negligence” and that the document was located in a police station across the street from the court.
Police: Lack video evidence doesn’t matter
Authorities are pursuing the case despite Indore police admitting they had no evidence, Indian Express reported.
“There’s no evidence against him for insulting Hindu deities or Union Minister Amit Shah,” local police officer Kamlesh Sharma told the news daily days after the initial arrest. He added that the two videos submitted by the complainant were of another comedian.
Last week, Indore’s Superintendent of Police Vijay Khatri told news portal Article 14 that Faruqui was arrested after Gaur, son of the BJP politician, said he overheard some jokes during rehearsal. The lack of video evidence was not important.
“Doesn’t really matter,” Khatri told the website. “There was ruckus at the venue even before Faruqui could perform. But, we were told [by the complainants] that they [the comedians] were cracking jokes about Ram and Shiv ji [the Hindu deities] while rehearsing.”
Faruqui’s arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention have been criticized as an attempt to stifle freedom of speech in India. Fellow comedians and activists have come out in support of their colleagues.
Comedian Vir Das took to Twitter to share a screenshot of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2017 tweet that talked about the importance of humor.
I think we need more satire and humour. Humour brings happiness in our lives. Humour is the best healer: PM @narendramodi— PMO India (@PMOIndia) January 14, 2017
“I think we need more satire and humour. Humour brings happiness in our lives. Humour is the best healer,” Modi had said in the tweet.
Just remember this: The system is not just telling comedians what they can joke about, it's also telling you what you can laugh at. The main target isn't our pen, it's your throat.— Vir Das (@thevirdas) January 18, 2021
Others, including popular comedians Rohan Joshi, Kaneez Surka and Abish Mathew, shared a video where Faruqui is trying to reason with those offended with 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 said on Instagram.