Rajat Sharma

Threat to Nupur Sharma’s life is indeed grave

AKB30 On a day when the Supreme Court granted protection from any coercive action, including arrest and summons, till August 10, against suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, news came from Bihar and Rajasthan about diabolical plots to kill her for making blasphemous remarks against Prophet Mohammed.

The apex court bench of Justices Surya Kant and J.B. Pardiwala, which had earlier refused relief to Nupur Sharma on July 1 and had asked her to approach the high courts for quashing each of the nine FIRs, filed in six states, softened its stance and admitted that there were threats from extremist elements to her life.

The bench said, “The petitioner (Nupur Sharma) has now pointed out that it has become nearly impossible for her to avail the alternative remedy granted by this court (on July 1) and that there is an imminent necessity for this court to intervene and protect her life and liberty as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.” The bench said, “Meanwhile, as an interim measure, it is directed that no coercive action shall be taken against the petitioner pursuant to the impugned FIRs/complaints or FIRs/complaints which may be registered/entertained in the future.”

Stating that it will correct to some extent its earlier ruling on her petition seeking protection from arrest and clubbing of nine FIRs against her, the bench said on Tuesday: “We never wanted you to go to every court.” The apex court issued notices to the centre and the governments of Delhi, Maharashtra, Telangana, UP and West Bengal on the issue of clubbing of FIRs. The bench noted that after its July 1 order, various incidents like threats by an Ajmer dargah ‘khadim’ Salman Chishti who had given a call to behead her, and another man from UP who had given a similar call for beheading, have taken place.

Nupur Sharma’s counsel Senior Advocate Maninder Singh told the court that there were threats to her life, since a lookout circular has been issued against her by Kolkata Police on July 2. He told the court that she faced imminent arrest if she travelled to Bengal, where two FIRs have been lodged. Maninder Singh told the court that all the FIRs are based on her single remark during a TV debate on May 26, where she made the remark against Prophet Mohammed, while replying to a Muslim maulana’s abuses against a Hindu deity.

All the nine FIRs filed against Nupur Sharma mention the same offence committed on the same date. All the IPC sections mentioned in these FIRs are almost the same. Hence, there should be no problem in clubbing all these FIRs. Moreover, the rape and death threats given to Nupur Sharma, has made her travel riskier. I am happy that the apex court realized the enormity of the danger that Nupur Sharma faces to her life.

I agree that the blasphemous remarks that Nupur Sharma made against Prophet Mohammed were not justified. Nobody should hurt the religious sentiments of others. But to decide whether the remarks constituted crime or not, is the responsibility of the judiciary. It is for the courts to decide the quantum of punishment, if any. Nobody can decide the quantum of punishment on his own. But there are extremist and fundamentalist elements in India who want to behead her. They want to take law into their own hands and give her punishment. The threat to Nupur’s life is indeed grave.

In my prime-time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Tuesday night, we telecasted news about how there were plots to kill Nupur Sharma in Bihar and Rajasthan. Patna Police revealed that the radical outfit People’s Front of India had plotted to kill her. According to Patna Police, Athar Parvez, nabbed with ex-policeman mastermind Jalaluddin in Phulwari Sharif, had created a WhatsApp group on his cellphone, in which Nupur Sharma’s address and phone number had been shared. Nupur’s details were shared through this group to a large number of PFI supporters. A third activist, Arman Malik, was also arrested. He was also part of this group and had Nupur Sharma’s details with him.

Patna Police is unwilling to share details as the investigation is on. India TV reporter has information that one of the PFI activists was asked to reach Nupur’s residence. Activists in this group were being told to ‘give punishment’ to Nupur to whoever gets the first chance to reach close to her. Additional SP of Phulwari Sharif declined to disclose details, but said that more concrete evidences have been collected and the probe is in an advanced stage. He said, police will produce fresh evidence in court after the police remand period is over.

Meanwhile, in a shop at Nanpur in Sitamarhi, Bihar, 23-year-old Ankit Kumar Jha, who was standing at a paan shop, was stabbed six times on Friday last by a group of four to five Muslim youths. While police said, there was no communal angle to the case, Ankit Kumar Jha, hospitalized in a hospital in Darbhanga, said, he was watching a video of Nupur Sharma on WhatsApp at the paan shop, when the assailants demanded to know whether he supported her. They started abusing him and one of them stabbed him six times. He said, he did not know the assailants, but can identify the person who stabbed him with the knife.

Ankit said, he caught hold of the assailant even after being stabbed, but a crowd of 25 to 30 Muslim youths came and took away the assailant with them. Ankit was taken by local people to hospital, where he is undergoing treatment in the ICU. Ankit’s family members alleged that police deliberately refrained from mentioning Nupur Sharma’s name in the FIR. After Ankit’s statement to the media, police changed its stand.

The SP of Sitamarhi district said, Ankit’s brother Ashish Kumar in his written complaint had nowhere mentioned the name of Nupur Sharma. He said, Ankit’s statement will be recorded and already two accused have been nabbed.

Normally police try to underplay crimes, and this is not justified. A youth was stabbed with a kife six times, and the victim is saying that he was watching Nupur Sharma’s video when he was attacked, but police was trying to pass it off as a case of local fight over drugs. People lose their trust when policemen behave like this, and criminals get encouragement.

More than a thousand kilometres away from Bihar, a Pakistani national Rizwan Akhtar, age 24 years, was nabbed by BSF in Rajasthan. The armed Pakistani intruder was arrested near Hindumalkot border post in Sriganganagar district of Rajasthan on July 16 night. During interrogation, Rizwan Akhtar confessed that he was on a mission to kill Nupur Sharma, for making remarks against the Prophet.

The SP of Ganganagar, Anand Sharma said, Rizwan Akhtar hailed from Kuthiyal Shekhar in Bahauddin district of Pakistan’s Punjab province. Two knives, one 11 inches long, were found from his possession. There were some religious texts, a map of India, clothes, food and a bagful of sand with him.

According to police, Rizwan confessed that he intended to visit Ajmer dargah first, offer a chadar, and then proceed to kill his target. Rizwan told police that there wasa meeting of mullahs and ulema in Bahauddin district, where Nupur Sharma’s blasphemous remarks against Prophet Mohammed were condemned and a ‘fatwa’ was issued for killing her. He said, Pakistani ulema had brainwashed him to enter India and kill Nupur Sharma. He was caught while trying to cross the international border. A local court remanded him to custody till July 24. He has been interrogated by a team of IB, RAW and Military Intelligence officers.

The arrest of the Pakistani national is evidence that Nupur Sharma has enemies, not only in India, but also across the border. One need not go far to find out why ‘jihadi’ fundamentalist forces want to behead Nupur Sharma. These are elements who want to strike terror in the hearts of common people, and create fear in the name of Islam. I have spoken to several Islamic scholars. They said, Islam does not permit killing, or maiming, or harming people. They said, Islam gives the message of love and brotherhood, but the situation that is now evolving is different.

People having a ‘jihadi’ mindset, maulanas who have a medieval fundamentalist outlook, and outfits like PFI have become tools to spread hatred in the minds of Muslims towards Nupur Sharma. Conspiracies are afoot in the name of Islam to incite people. Maulanas in Pakistan are inciting people to attack Nupur Sharma. Outfits that spread the poison of hatred like PFI are also plotting against her.

Nobody can say, who will attack Nupur Sharma and when. There is need to identify and isolate such elements, and the message must go that such radical elements will never get the support of Muslim community. The jihadi elements are on the prowl of even those who are supporting Nupur Sharma, as the stabbing incident that took place in Sitamarhi, Bihar shows.

Even a senior BJP MP from Rajasthan, Kirorilal Meena has got a threatening letter from one Qadir Ali, dated July 9, in which he has written that those who insult our Prophet will meet the same fate of Kanhaiyalal. Kirorilal Meena had gone to Udaipur to console the family of Kanhaiyalal, and had even offered his one month salary to the family. He had described the killers of Kanhaiyalal as ‘Talibani’. Meena has informed both the Centre and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot about this threat.

This is another example of how some people are taking the extremist path in the name of religion. Such people are losing tolerance. Should an MP not raise his voice against the killers who beheaded an innocent person? This is not only a Hindu-Muslim issue. This is an issue relating to tolerance. Islam preaches tolerance and forgiveness. Those who attack innocent people must be brought to book.

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