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Congress MLA, 6 Others Booked for Promoting Enmity after Protest against Emmanuel Macron in Bhopal

Protesters demonstrate against French President Emmanuel Macron over his remarks on Islam at Iqbal Maidan in Bhopal, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (PTI Photo)

Protesters demonstrate against French President Emmanuel Macron over his remarks on Islam at Iqbal Maidan in Bhopal, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (PTI Photo)

The fresh FIR against the Bhopal Central MLA and half- a-dozen others was filed on a complaint lodged by Dharma Sanskriti Samiti functionary Dr Deepak Raghuwanshi, said Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Bhopal range, Upendra Jain.

Bhopal: Police on Wednesday filed a separate FIR against Madhya Pradesh Congress MLA Arif Masood and six others, charging them with promoting enmity between groups after a protest here against French President Emmanuel Macron over a cartoon row, an official said. A few days ago, Masood and 49 others were arrested in a separate case related to the protest held here last week against the French President over the cartoon row in the European country in violation of COVID-19-related curbs. They were later freed on bail.

The fresh FIR against the Bhopal Central MLA and half- a-dozen others was filed on a complaint lodged by Dharma Sanskriti Samiti functionary Dr Deepak Raghuwanshi, said Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Bhopal range, Upendra Jain. On the complaint of Dr Deepak Raghuwanshi, the FIR under IPC section 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) was registered against Masood and six others," he said.

"Their protest has hurt the religious feelings of people, Jain said. The FIR was registered in the Talaiya police station of the city, he said.

As per the complaint, Masood had gathered a large number of people and burnt an effigy of Macron and also the French flag over depictions of Prophet Mohammad," the police officer said. The Congress MLA also warned the central government and its ministers for supporting France over the cartoon controversy, Jain said.

"Masood's speech incited the crowd and created fear in the minds of people. His statements also have the potential to adversely affect Indias relations with France, the ADGP said. The others named in the FIR included corporator Shahwar Mansoori, he said.

The anti-Macron protest, which also saw participation from Muslim clerics, was held last Thursday at Iqbal Maiden here. Last weekend, Masood and 49 others were arrested on bailable offences. They were set free after they furnished bail bonds, the ADGP said.

On Sunday, they were charged under IPC sections 269 (act likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life), 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life). They were also booked under section 15 (b) (refusal to comply with any direction given by or on behalf of the Centre or the State)of the Disaster Management Act and section 3 (disobeying any regulation or order) of the Epidemic Act, he added.

The Disaster Management Act and the Epidemic Act have been invoked in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. As many as 2,000 people, including Masood and some clerics, were charged under section 188 (disobedience of an order promulgated by a public servant) of the IPC on Thursday evening, a police official said.

The protesters violated the district administration order banning assembly of people in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, he added.

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