BHOPAL: In a sudden but significant development, the Burhanpur police in Madhya Pradesh have decided to drop the sedition charges framed against 15 men who were arrested on Monday for allegedly raising pro-Pakistan slogans following India’s loss to Pakistan in Champions Trophy cricket final on Sunday.
Although the sedition charges have been dropped, the men, presently lodged in the district jail in Khandwa district, continue to face charges under Section 153A of IPC for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups on religious grounds and doing acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony.
“The alteration in charges, done late on Thursday night, will be communicated to the court when the challan is filed against the accused,” Burhanpur district superintendent of police RRS Parihar told New Indian Express on Thursday.
Parihar said that after two days of investigation, it was found that the accused had no past criminal record and they celebrated Pakistan’s win in excitement. “We subsequently decided to drop the sedition charges, and instead, slapped charges pertaining to disturbing communal harmony,” said the SP.
However, informed sources confided that the police may have dropped the sedition charge for want of sufficient evidence to prosecute them. Asked by TNIE whether police acted in haste by slapping sedition charges against the 15 men, the Burhanpur SP said the charge was framed keeping in mind the prima facie evidence.
Police added that the kin of the accused had apologized and assured that such incidents will not happen again.
However, Gulzar, the father of Iqbal, one of the arrested men, had written to the President and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday asking for a probe by an independent agency into the arrest. A Burhanpur-based lawyer Ubed Shaikh had decided to contest the case for nine of them, saying that they were innocent.