Row over video’s authenticity after 16 booked for sedition
On Monday, the Muharram procession’s organisers released a 2.20-minutevideo in which people can be heard shouting “qazi sahab zindabad”.
Days after the police booked 16 people on sedition charges for allegedly shouting “Pakistan zindabad” during a Muharram procession in Ujjain, a debate has broken out over the authenticity of the video clip on the basis of which the police acted.
On Monday, the Muharram procession’s organisers released a 2.20-minutevideo in which people can be heard shouting “qazi sahab zindabad”. The Ujjain police then released a 10-minute clip of the same event in which people can be heard shouting “Pakistan zindabad” and “qazi sahab zindabad” .
Ujjain superintendent of police Satyendra Shukla said, “We have taken action only on the basis of an authentic video shot by police personnel and officers of the district administration. We have no doubt on the authenticity. The incident happened at 10.12pm and we registered a case on the basis of video within half an hour.”
“Earlier too, such incidents have been reported from the area, and this time we recorded the procession,” Shukla added.
The video has been forwarded to the state’s home department.
The organisers have a different story.
“The police morphed the video. No anti-national slogans were shouted by the people present,” said Muzeeb Qazi, an organiser of the Muharram procession in Ujjain’s Geeta Colony.
Backing Qazi’s claims, Congress’s Rajya Sabha MP Digvijaya Singh said, “Police took action on a fake video clip. They should have verified the truth first. The case should be withdrawn.”
A Congress municipal councillor Maya Trivedi, who was present at the programme, said: “Nobody shouted anti-national slogans and the case was registered on the basis of a fake video.”
Madhya Pradesh home minister Narottam Mishra said, “We don’t have any doubt about the video. Such anti-national and people inspired by Taliban mentality should be punished.”
Calling Digvijaya Singh a “Pakistani agent”, the state’s medical education minister Vishwas Sarang said, “Why does Digvijaya Singh always feel offended when it comes to Pakistan and anti-national activities? The Congress is trying to create communal tension, but we won’t allow them.”
The Ujjain police on Friday booked 16 residents of Geeta Colony under sections 124 A (sedition), 153 B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 188 (violation of order duly promulgated by officer) of the Indian Penal Code; 10 of them have been arrested so far, police said.
Reacting to the incident, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan earlier said his government would not tolerate a “Taliban-like” mindset.
District collector Ashish Singh on Sunday invoked the National Security Act (NSA) against four of the accused.
(With inputs from Anand Nigam from Ujjain)