“Tumhe kya lagta hai musibat calendar dekh ke aati hai. Happy New Year (What do you think, troubles come with a calendar).” The last tweet wishing people a happy new year on standup comedian Munawar Faruqui’s Twitter timeline reads like his prediction for himself now. This tweet came hours before he was arrested in Indore following a complaint which alleged that Faruqui made ‘indecent remarks’ about Hindu gods and godesses.
Tumhe kya lagta hai musibat
Calendar dekh ke aati hai???
Happy new year… 😅
— munawar faruqui (@munawar0018) December 31, 2020
It has been three days since his arrest and this tweet. Faruqui was arrested in Indore on Friday after the complaint of BJP MLA Malini Gaur’s son Eklavya Gaur. He termed Faruqui as a ‘serial offender’ who ‘often cracks defamatory jokes on Hindu gods and goddesses.’
A court in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore has now rejected bail of Faruqui and another accused who were arrested last week on a complaint that “indecent” remarks were made against Hindu deities during a show held in Indore.
Gaur said that he had gone to watch the show with his associates when Faruqui made ‘indecent remarks’, after which he forced the organisers to stop the show. In the video clip, which has now gone viral, Faruqui can be seen trying to pacify those who were offended by the joke. However, he was allegedly beaten up and later arrested.
Faruqui is a young standup comedian based out of Mumbai. While he originally belongs to Gujarat’s Junagadh, a small sleepy town, as he defines it. “Junagadh is a such a lazy city that people sleep from 1 pm to 4pm and apologise if they have to call anyone during this time,” he says in one of his standup acts. His content is often hinged around Muslim stereotypes, growing up in Gujarat during riots and of course his sleepy hometown.
In one of his acts, he satirically and humourously recalled how the riots had unfolded in Gujarat, the curfew that had been imposed in the area and the communal harmony that ensured everyone remained safe in their locality during those times.
During the lockdown last year, his sketches as Razzaq bhai went popular. Razzaq bhai spoke in Mumbai-style hindi and kept Faruqui-fans waiting for new episodes during the initial days of lockdown.
Days after Faruqui’s arrest, the police said that there was no video evidence showing him making such remarks.
“There’s no evidence against him for insulting Hindu deities or Union Minister Amit Shah,” Indore Town Inspector (Tukaganj Police Station) Kamlesh Sharma told The Indian Express, adding that Faruqui has been booked as an organiser.
Faruqui and his associates Edvin Anthony, Prakhar Vyas, Priyam Vyas and Nalin Yadav have been booked under IPC Sections 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 298 (uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person), 269 (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), 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).
Standup comedians and artistes like Varun Grover and Vir Das have rallied behind Faruqui and termed his arrest an attack on free speech and art. A video of the incident has been going viral where Faruqui is being interrupted in the middle of his performance in Indore as he tries to explain his content to those offended with his jokes.
In the footage, he can be seen referring to his old videos where he cracked jokes on Islam and that his content had never had the intention to provoke Hindu sentiments. Gaur too can be seen on the stage, even though he later stormed off.