Delhi Minorities Commission chairman Dr Zafarul Islam Khan has been charged with sedition for a social media post he made on Saturday.
The FIR was registered against Dr Khan on 30 April under section 124 A (sedition) and 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth) after police received a complaint by a resident of Vasant Kunj.
In the FIR, the complainant alleged that Dr Khan’s post was “provocative”, “deliberate” and seditious and “intended to cause disharmony and create a rift in the society”, police said, adding that the case is being investigated by the cyber cell.
In the light of the recent sharp reaction from the Arab world towards “the growing tide of Islamophobia in India” and urging the central government to take urgent steps to curb it, Dr Khan had thanked Kuwait in his post “for standing with Indian Muslims”.
In a Facebook post on April 28, he had said, “The Hindutva bigots calculated that given the huge economic stakes involved the Muslim and Arab world will not care about the persecution of Muslims in India”.
Dr Khan had also reportedly commented, “Mind you, bigots, Indian Muslims have opted until now not to complain to the Arab and Muslim world about your hate campaigns and lynchings and riots. The day they are pushed to do that, bigots will face an avalanche.”
Soon a controversy was made out of his comment, to which Dr Khan issued a clarification on his Twitter account on May 1, saying that he never tried to tarnish the image of his country and is a patriot. “I have not complained against my country to any foreign government or organisation nor I intend to do so in future. I am a patriot to the core and I have always defended my country abroad,” he said.
“However, at the same time I have always been vocal about the problems in our country like any other country but we and our political, constitutional and judicial system are capable to tackle them,” he added.
Statement by Dr. Zafarul-Islam Khan (1 May 2020) pic.twitter.com/9d5609e8rS
— Zafarul-Islam Khan (@khan_zafarul) May 1, 2020
Meanwhile, reacting to the police action, a number of prominent citizens have issued a public statement expressing solidarity with Dr Khan and have urged the government “to take strong legal action against those who are distorting” his Facebook post “and spreading vicious false propaganda against him”.
Read their full statement:
2 May 2020
We, the undersigned express our solidarity with Dr Zafarul Islam Khan, renowned scholar, journalist and presently Chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission.
We strongly condemn the continued media trial and targeting of Dr Zafarul Islam Khan for his Facebook post thanking Kuwait for expressing solidarity with Indian Muslims. In his Facebook post, he mentioned the appalling deterioration of human rights of Indian Muslims who have been targeted by Hindutva bigots. A few politicians with ulterior motives and news channel anchors known for spreading bigotry and Islamophobia have mischievously sought to misinterpret his statement and ridiculously label him as anti-Hindu and anti-India.
He has only reiterated what many citizens of India, public figures, international institutions, various European governments, the United States of America and United Nations human rights mechanisms have repeatedly underlined their concern at the increasing human rights abuse and violations of religious minorities in India.
Dr Zafarul Islam Khan is a man of integrity. He is a scholar who is known to stand up for constitutional freedoms and values.
His work as the Chairman of Delhi Minorities Commission has been warmly applauded by human rights activists and NGOs across different faiths. His timely interventions on problems of minorities in Delhi have made him a respectable figure among not only Muslims but Sikh, Christians, Jains and Parsis. He is a humanist in the truest sense of the word.
The hateful propaganda against Dr Khan is one more illustration as how certain Indians fail to differentiate between Hinduism, a religion and Hindutva which is a supremacist political ideology.
Dr Zafarul Islam Khan is a leading Indian intellectual whose niche area is Islamic studies and Arab world. He enjoys great respect in the Arab and Muslim world for his understanding and knowledge. He is an alumni of the esteemed Jamia Al-Azhar and Manchester University.
Dr Khan is known for taking bold public positions. He was the first Muslim scholar in the world who denounced ISIL, which later became IS or ISIS. He issued a statement opposing the barbaric crimes of ISIL (IS or ISIS) and Boko Haram against minorities. He takes strong stands against extremism of all sorts. That makes him a prominent critic of RSS.
Dr Khan is a scholar ambassador and earned international prestige for the India. Any attack and targeting of him, is actually an insult to Indian constitution and ethos.
We demand the appropriate authorities of the Government of India take strong legal action against those who are distorting Dr Khan’s Facebook post, and spreading vicious false propaganda against him.
Arun Kumar (Prof)
Indu Pratap Singh
Denzil Fernandes (Dr)
John Dayal (Dr)
Abubakr Sabbaq (Adv)
Jaffer Latief Najar
E M Abdul Rahiman
A C Michael
Aftab Alam (Dr)
Syed Saif Ur Rahman
Tanweer Fazal (Dr)
Thouseef Madikeri (Dr)
Violin Mathew Benjamin
Shamsul Islam (Prof)
Mohd. Shahid (Prof)
Anand Vivek Taneja (Dr)
Kush Kumar Singh (Dr)
Abdul Rashid Agwan
Mohammed Hafeez Ulla
Mushfique Raza Khan
Partha S Banerjee
Aiman J Khan
M. K. Faizy
Tasleem Rehmani (Dr)
Lenin Raghuvanshi (Dr)
Malik Motasim Khan
Kripal Singh Mandloi
Raees Ahmed Siddiqui
Laeeq Ahmed Khan
Mohd Sorab Hussain
Ovais Sultan Khan