CHENNAI: The city police have booked a man on sedition charges for receiving and forwarding a WhatsApp message which called for an assembly of Muslims in New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. The Chennai airport police booked Tadikala Akabar Saleem, 36 and a native of Andhra Pradesh, based on a statement from the Central government’s Air Intelligence Unit which originally arrested Saleem on Saturday for abetting a smuggling of gold from Dubai.
The letter by the unit to the airport police said the WhatsApp audio message in Saleem’s phone “prima facie appeared to be anti-national content.” The free translation of the WhatsApp audio message provided by the Air Intelligence Unit’s mahazar said the message had appealed to Muslims to assemble in large numbers at Jantar Mantar, a famous protest site in the national capital.
“First time there will be a gathering of Muslims under maula asad magani saheb.. this is the only time to show our power...” said the audio message. The audio message was circulated along with an apparently morphed photo of a woman who was seen with papers from the holy book of Quran tied around her feet. The message also did not call for any violence or specify the date of the scheduled assembly.
“We caught one Khadar Basha who arrived on Saturday from Dubai and was found smuggling 1.149 kg of gold. Based on the information given by him, we caught Saleem, who was waiting outside the airport to collect gold from Basha,” said a source in the Air Intelligence Unit.
But when the unit’s officials checked Saleem’s phone, they found the WhatsApp audio to be of “anti-national” content and handed Saleem and the phone to the airport police asking them to take necessary action. Officials from the state’s different wings also questioned Saleem.
The Chennai airport police subsequently booked Saleem on charges of sedition under IPC section 124A. However, Saleem was released by a magistrate court on Sunday before which he was produced by the police.
Only last year, the Supreme Court reiterated that the sedition charges must be guided by principles laid down in 1962 Kedar Nath judgment by the apex court. The court had ruled that the only acts that amount to subverting of the government by violent means can be considered as sedition.