Arrest of Munawar Faruqui: Comedy is no Crime

Arrest of Munawar Faruqui: Comedy is no Crime

Mr. Faruqui’s arrest was outrageous and astounding ‘even before he cracked a joke’.  This is no laughing matter or is it?

In an order that was dated 28th January 2021, The Madhya Pradesh High Court dismissed the bail application of Munawar Faruqui, who is a stand-up comedian, and Nalini Yadav. These two were arrested on the 2nd of January, 2021 for hurting sentiments on their show. 

What happened since January 01st 2021?

What happened since January 01st 2021

Munawar Faruqui was arrested on the 01st of January 2021 along with four others. This was on the basis of a complaint that was filed by the son of a MP of the BJP, Eklavya Singh Gaud. According to the complaint, Munawar Faruqui had allegedly hurt the religious sentiments as he had seemingly made indecent remarks about Hindu deities. This was at his comic show held in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. 

The other four who were arrested include Prakhar Vyas, Edwin Anthony, Nalin Yadav and Priyam Vyas. All of them were booked under sections 295-A section, 269 and other relevant provisions. They were accused of not following the protocols of COVID-19. 

The applicants approached the Judicial Magistrate post the registration of the FIR filed. Their bail application was rejected and they were sent to judicial custody till the 13th of January 2021. 

The Support

The Support

More than 100 artists from not only India but across the world have made a demand for dropping the charges. This was done via an open letter. Some of the artists include Kalki Koechlin, Pooja Bhatt, Arundhati Roy and Kuanal Kamra.

This public statement stated that the community which included artists, stand-up comedians, musicians, actors, political satirists and entertainers were alarmed at what was happening in India. This is the country where irreverence and laughter was a part of different traditions across communities and religions, and humor was deployed by artists since centuries. 

They expressed that the arrest of Faruqui even before he cracked a joke was really outrageous. The Supreme Court eventually granted bail to all those arrested. Though he has been granted bail, the charges against him in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh yet remain. The supporters asked for the dropping or dismissing the charges for the six individuals. 

The Superintendent of Police not only accused Munawar of insulting the Hindu Gods but also praised the so called vigilantes. Munawar was supposedly facing criminal charges as he had uttered words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings. This was for the jokes that he never cracked and for a performance he never gave. 

The signatories expressed alarm that a stand-up comic was behind bars for more than a month for a crime that was never committed

The signatories further asked for an end to the persecution of Faruqui and his associates along with other performers, who need to have the right to use their respective art to make comments on their times. 

This statement was led by PEN America, Progressive India Collective and Freemuse and Reclaiming India, according to a press release.

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