Court orders release of BJP MLA Raja Singh, for violating procedure of arrest

MLA arrested by police for video outraging religious feelings 

August 23, 2022 09:36 pm | Updated 09:43 pm IST - HYDERABAD

Police dispersing anti Raja Singh protesters outside the Nampally court in Hyderabad on Tuesday.

Police dispersing anti Raja Singh protesters outside the Nampally court in Hyderabad on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Bharatiya Janata Party legislator from Goshamahal Assembly constituency in the city T. Raja Singh was arrested, later in the day produced before a court, for allegedly making statements to outrage religious feelings, here on Tuesday. However, the court turned down the remand application of the police for not following proper procedure in arrest and ordered the immediate release of the MLA.

The point at issue for Mr. Raja Singh was the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government allowing stand-up comic Munawar Faruqui to perform a show in Hyderabad. The firebrand leader, prior to the scheduled show on Saturday, had cautioned the organisers, the police and the government, that there would be severe backlash if the show was allowed.

“How will you invite and allow a person who insulted Hindu gods and goddesses to perform here? We will burn down the venue. If you still go ahead, you will see the reaction on August 22,” he had said.

With an intention to maintain law and order, several hundred police personnel guarded the venue, detained a few BJP activists and ensured that the show ended peacefully.

Taking on Mr. Faruqui, as stated earlier, Mr. Raja Singh on Monday uploaded a video via ‘Shree Ram Channel Telangana’ on YouTube “as a reaction to allowing the show.”

Protests and complaints

The video which instantly went viral stirred up passions and within hours thousands of angered Muslims assembled outside several police stations, the Police Commissioner’s Office over midnight and staged protests demanding immediate arrest of Mr. Raja Singh.

Many shops and business establishments were shut in protest against the objectionable remarks against Prophet Muhammad made by BJP MLA T Raja Singh, in old city of Hyderabad on Tuesday.

Many shops and business establishments were shut in protest against the objectionable remarks against Prophet Muhammad made by BJP MLA T Raja Singh, in old city of Hyderabad on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

Expressing solidarity, complaints were filed at various police stations in Hyderabad and outside, and businesses in parts of the Old City were shut for the day.

According to the first information report registered at Mangalhat police station, a complainant had stated that the Legislator made blasphemous remarks against Prophet Muhammad and his lifestyle. In the 10-minute video, there were also comments ridiculing the attire of the community, the holy book, among other descriptions, it said.

Mangalhat police, based on the video, preliminarily pressed various charges under the IPC — promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony (153A (a) (b)), deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings (295A), Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace (504), Statements promoting enmity (505 (2)), and Punishment for criminal intimidation (506).

On Tuesday, a huge police force surrounded the house of Mr. Raja Singh for his arrest. Even as his supporters protested in the tense situation, he was removed in a police SUV and reportedly shifted to a police station on the city outskirts.

Video message before arrest

Mr. Raja Singh, who learnt about the cases being filed against him and the police preparing for his arrest, released a video and said he did not say anything wrong.

“Did I name any god in the video, or did I even refer to them in any code, like Faruqui vulgarly ridiculed Lord Sri Ram and Seethamma? My counter in that video was in the same language as Faruqui’s. The ruling TRS is stifling BJP’s voices, I am only fighting for my faith. First dharmam, next politics,” he said, adding that the said video was removed by YouTube and that he would also release another part of it soon.

Tension and lathi charge outside the Court

High tension prevailed outside the criminal courts complex at Nampally where the police escorted the Legislator for producing him before the magistrate. Hundreds of men from both the majority and minority communities who began to pour in on either side of the road engaged in out-shouting each other, and slogans of Jai Shri Ram and Allahu Akbar rented the air.

Police resorted to lathi charge to disperse the charged activists as their cries refused to subside.

Court rejects judicial remand, orders release

Even as the police were making arrangements anticipating Mr. Raja Singh’s remand by the magistrate, a fresh turn of events changed the way things ended on the day.

The XIV Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (for trial of communal disturbances) returned the remand application filed by the Mangalhat police for violation of prescribed procedure. The court also ordered the police to immediately release Mr. Raja Singh.

The court passed the order after hearing contentions of the counsels of the government and the counsel for the MLA. Mr. Singh’s lawyer Karuna Sagar contended that the police had violated section 41 (A) of Criminal Procedure Code.

He argued that the Investigating Officer was bound to follow the section in any crime punishable with seven years or less imprisonment. The Supreme Court had set guidelines for enforcing this section in Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar and the same were violated by the Mangalhat police, he said.

Mr. Sagar said that the issue of the video through which the MLA was accused of making provoking comments was the subject matter of the trial.

Congratulated by activists and leaders, a beaming Mr. Raja Singh was seen exiting the court complex.

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