MUMBAI:The city police on Thursday arrested two vendors for selling an Urdu daily, which had reprinted the cover of French magazine Charlie Hebdo with the cartoon of Prophet Muhammad. However, the duo were later released on bail by a local court.
Tariq Ahmed Sheikh and Salman Kalam Sheikh were selling a January 17 edition of Urdu newspaper Avadhnama at the Bhendi Bazaar, a Muslim ghetto in South Mumbai. They were booked under Section 295 of the IPC, which deals with deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings.
In fact the police action followed a complaint filed by Riyaz Chale, member of the local mosque committee, which sought the arrest of the vendors for hurting the religious sentiments.
Earlier, Avadhnama’s editor Shirin Dalvi had beeb targeted by Muslim radicals, with FIRs being registered against her on the basis of the complaints from at least 21 organisations, who accused her of hurting the religious sentiments. Following this, Dalvi had to publish an apology and was later even forced shut down the newspaper. In a statement, Dalvi said she felt insecure and unsafe even after tendering the apology.
“I am feeling insecure and unsafe. I have lost my job. My reputation has been tarnished and I have nowhere to go. I am a single mother with two children. What happens to their future? Even after tendering the apology, I am being threatened. Allegations levelled against me that I printed the cover deliberately even after being stopped are baseless and untrue. There is a mountain of lies which is being used against me because of personal differences.”
According to Dalvi, she used the Hebdo cover as an illustration to what the Pope had said in the wake of the Paris carnage: “Those who mock religion might face dangerous consequences”.
“Since I didn’t understand what was written in French, I did not realise I was making a mistake. That’s exactly how this happened inadvertently. The newspaper has been shut down. Besides me, many others have lost their jobs.
“I apologise to all of them. And I appeal to those, who are still upset with me, to please forgive, forget and move ahead,” she added.