Standup comedian Munawar Faruqui was allegedly assaulted by a group at a show in Indore yesterday, according to sources who were present at the event. Faruqui and four others were then detained by the Madhya Pradesh police, which has booked him for allegedly making derogatory comments about Hindu gods and goddesses, a police official told the media last night.
Though the official said they were investigating derogatory comments made at the event, witnesses at the scene said that the group disrupted the show due to one of Faruqui’s earlier videos, which had already made him the target of online harassment and at least one police compaint by a Hindutva activist.
Faruqui was in Indore to perform a surprise set at a comedy show at the Munroe Cafe, organised by local comedians and promoters. Things were normal while the two Indori comedians finished their sets, but as soon as Faruqui got on stage, a group of people barged into the venue. According to an eyewitness as well as video evidence shared with DeadAnt, the group’s leader jumped on stage and grabbed the mic in order to berate Faruqui for his earlier videos and jokes. The comedian was defended by his fellow comics as well as members of the audience.
“After a few minutes they got off the stage and we were able to continue with the set,” says the eyewitness. “But the crowd of 50 [from the group] or so was still outside and harassing other patrons at the cafe, so eventually the cafe owner asked us to shut down the show and leave.”
It was while leaving the cafe that Faruqui, as well as a few others, were allegedly assaulted by this group. The Madhya Pradesh police then detained the comics and took them to Tuko Ganj police station, where a complaint was filed against five people, including Faruqui, Priyam Prakhar and three others.
The incident comes at a time when communal tensions are high in the state, with reports of a right wing mob attacking a mosque in Mandsaur district earlier this week. The attacks follow BJP Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan’s statement at a farmer’s rally this week in which he threatened to bury criminals “10 feet in the ground” and asserted that “there will be rule of law in the state, not of goons and miscreants.”
The application for Munawar Faruqui’s bail has been filed before the sessions court, his lawyer—Anshuman Shrivastava, ex-Deputy Advocate General of Madhya Pradesh—told DeadAnt. The hearing is scheduled for later today. “If bail is denied by sessions court as well, Faruqui will remain in judicial custody & we will move the High Court on Wednesday.”
Munawar Faruqui and four others (Adwin Anthony, Prakhar Vyas, Priyam Vyas Nalin Yadav) part of the comedy show that was disrupted in Indore on 1 January 2020 were produced before the magistrate court on Saturday. They were denied bail and remanded to judicial custody till 13 January.
“Acc to the investigating officer, the case has been registered on the basis of a video released [by Faruqui] 4yrs ago. However, contents of the FIR are vague—no details have been specified re: by what words or expression he has hurt sentiments,” said Shrivastava.
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