Sedition case against ex-UP governor over remarks on Yogi government
Former Uttar Pradesh governor Aziz Qureshi has been booked for sedition over his alleged derogatory remarks against the state government, the police said on Monday. The FIR was lodged following a complaint by local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Akash Kumar Saxena at the Civil Lines police station in Rampur district on Sunday.
Qureshi said his statement had been misquoted to harm him politically. The former governor visited the residence of senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan on Saturday evening. Qureshi met Azam’s wife Tazeen Fatima, who is also the Rampur MLA. Azam Khan is currently in jail in several cases lodged against him after 2017 when the BJP came to power in UP.
In his complaint, Saxena alleged that after visiting Khan’s house and meeting his wife, Qureshi made derogatory statements against the state government.
Saxena alleged that Qureshi said, “The fight between Azam Khan and the state government is like the fight between man and shaitaan (devil).”
Saxena also alleged that Qureshi had termed the government a “blood-sucking demon”.
“The statement can create tension between two communities and create unrest in society,” Saxena said in his complaint.
The BJP leader also handed over to police a pen drive containing Qureshi’s alleged statement which was aired by various news channels.
Qureshi was booked under sections 153A (promoting enmity between two groups on grounds of religion, race), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 124A (sedition), and 505(1)(B) (intent to cause fear or alarm to the public), a senior police officer said.
“The FIR against Aziz Qureshi was lodged on the complaint of one Akash Saxena. Qureshi has been booked under sedition on the basis of the complaint made to the police. A team of the local police station is investigating the matter. We are also collecting video evidence of the incident for probe,” said additional superintendent of police (Rampur) Sansar Singh.
Qureshi, 81, a senior Congress leader, had served as the governor of Mizoram from 2014 to 2015. He also had charge of Uttar Pradesh for some time in June 2014.
On his part, the former governor said to the news agency ANI, “It is my right to oppose the policies of the government and I will fight for it till my last breath in a democratic way. My statement is being completely distorted to harm me politically and to mislead the public. I had said that there have not been as many atrocities in earlier days as today. I have not made any remarks against anyone.”
“I did not make a statement against the government. I consider the government as my government. I consider the Prime Minister as the Prime Minister of the whole country. I consider the home minister, defence minister of the entire country. I consider the chief minister as the leader of the whole state. I have never lacked in his respect nor will do. We have a democratic right to oppose them, their policies and it is our democratic right,” Qureshi said.
Clarifying the use of the word “shaitan” during his meeting with Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan’s wife, he said the word is used for a child too who bullies other kids.
The former governor further raised questions against the charges of sedition against him, “Show me one word where I have talked about communalism or spreading communal hatred. A man who needs a wheelchair for his support, will he spread hatred?”
Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party (SP) came in support of the former governor. "Use of words by Mr Aziz Qureshi may not be in good taste but how on earth does his statement constitute the offence of sedition? Since when did CM Yogi become a state? Criticism of the government is not sedition, UP police need to keep in mind this basic fact. Indian Supreme Court has also expressed concerns about the misuse of the law. It has asked the Central government why is it not repealing a colonial-era law that was used against our freedom fighters. Rampant misuse of this law shows the anti-democratic character of the present UP government," said Abdul Hafiz Gandhi, SP spokesperson.
(WITH AGENCY INPUTS)