Shefali Ranawat: Stand-up comedian’s “Hellish gags” mockery of religion and politicians to be jailed?

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India is already making international headlines with the famers protest that has not reached to any conclusion yet. But recently here, a stand-up comedian named Munawar Faruqui along with other four comedians, Edwin Anthony, Prakhar Vyas, Priyam Vyas, Nalin Yadav got arrested for making indecent remarks against Hindu deities and Union Home Minister Amit Shah during the show.

Stand-up comedian from Gujarat, Munawar Faruqui and 4 others got arrested on 3rd January after the son of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) MLA filed complaint against the comedians. The complaint filed by Eklavya Singh Gaur, son of local MLA Malini Laxman Singh Gaur accused Munawar Faruqui along with 4 others for passing “indecent” remarks against Hindu gods and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Indore police arrested them under the under sections 295 A, 298, 269 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code as per the reports. Although police have confirmed of not having any video proof for against Munawar Faruqui and 4 others.

What these sections say?

295 A section of Indian Penal Code states, “Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religion or religious beliefs of any class (citizen of India) by words either spoken, or written or by sings or by visible representations or otherwise. Insults or attempt to insult the religion or religious beliefs shall be punished with imprisonment of either for descriptions for a term which may extend to 4(three years) or with fine or with both.“

298 section says, “Uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person. Whoever, with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person, utters any word or makes any sound in the hearing of that person or makes any gesture in the sight of that person or places, any object in the sight of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or with both.“

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269 sections says, “Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life.  Whoever unlawfully or negligently does any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 6 months or with fine or with both.“

34 section says, “Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention. When a criminal act is done by several persons in furtherance of the common intentions of all, each of such persons is liable for that act in the same manner as if it were done by him alone.“

Some people are standing with the artists and calling it baseless and intolerance whereas others are justifying the arrest for insulting Hindus. Meanwhile people of the country are having two different opinions, court rejected the bail plea of the accused. According to the court, “The accused provoked frenzy and it has been shown that granting him bail will lead to a law-and-order problem as a section of society will be offended.“ And now Sadakat Khan, Munawar Faruqui’s friend has been put behind the bars for passing abusive remarks at complaint of Eklavya Gaur, according to the reports. The court mentioned about arresting Sadakat Khan on false grounds and that there is no connection of him with the crime, Police objected that in a video, he is seen defending Munawar Faruqui.

Photo: Munawar Faruqui/Instagram

Well, this is not the first time when Indian stand-up comedians are held accountable for their sarcasm. If we look at the history, there are few names who have hit the controversies through their jokes. Agrima Joshua for making remarks against Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Kunal Kamra for criminal contempt of court, Radhika Vaz for using abusive language.

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But the main question is, are we really picking out people who say a word against a particular religion, then by cracking a joke or saying it directly?

Because then if these people really got their sentiments hurt, what about when a joke is cracked on a particular gender or a disable person or any other religion for that matters. We are seeing a selective drive when it comes to taking jokes. Swati Gandhi who has been to live stand-up comedy shows said, “This is not the first time a stand-up comedian has been arrested in this country, every other day news of stand-up comics being arrested and getting booked under various sections some to light. I feel the bar to tolerate things and take them in the sense they are, has come down. People have become more judgmental now, and for a Muslim stand-up comedian to get arrested is even worse. Freedom of speech and expression is our fundamental right, but seems like we can only exercise it in certain scenarios or not exercise it at all.“

She further added, “I feel this true that people are being selective on taking jokes. Men do not mind mocking women or being stereotypical about them, and the other men in the audience seem to enjoy that. Similar is the case for women comics. Also, people of one particular religion find it okay to mock the another, but when it comes down to their own religion, it is considered as disregard and all of a sudden, the issue becomes highly sensitive.“

People will keep expressing their views and opinions in any form under the right of freedom of speech and expression in this democratic country. You have to think, is intolerance is the reason behind such incidents or the selective drive that has been started. Think, where are we going as a country?

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Shefali Ranawat is an Eat News correspondent in India. She want to be the voice of people. Also, she aim to be a war correspondent.

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Eat News is a Taiwanese digital media, analyzes current events and issues through column articles, videos, visual aid, and exclusive interviews.

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