Hyderabad: “Today I saw a news that after Delhi’s riots, they are planning it in Hyderabad…What happened in Delhi will happen here, 100 percent…please take care,” went the audio message created by Rahmat Shareef, a 28-year-old auto driver from Banjara Hills. After the audio went viral over several WhatsApp groups in Hyderabad, Hyderabad police had taken up suo motu case and arrested Shareef on March 10, citing ‘communal issue’.
The case against Rahmat Shareef was booked under Section 505 (1 c) (intent to Incite community) and 505 (2) (statements creating enmity, hatred or ill will between classes) of the IPC.
Calling the audio ‘fake news’, when it was originally the voice of Rahmat Shareef, Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad, Anjani Kumar had tweeted, “Hyd police have traced the origin of the fake news which was circulated on WhatsApp to create communal issue... Pl don't forward any sensational msg.”
Rahmat Shareef’s audio message had named some places in Hyderabad, such as Syednagar, Hakeempet and Borabanda, and said that “the number of migrants labourers from U.P, Bihar are increasing in these areas since the past one week…if any attack happens, we will have to take care of ourselves.”
Responding to the police action, several citizens have come forth questioning as to how Hyderabad police had taken suo motu cognizance of this case, while not taking action on ‘Goli Maaro’ slogans that were raised during a march organised by Hindu Sanghatan, Hyderabad on February 29. It may be recalled that six people were detained at one of Delhi’s prominent Metro stations for raising the very same ‘Desh ke Gaddaron ko, goli maaro saa*** ko’ slogan in February.
Speaking about Rahmat’s arrest, S. Q Masood, a citizen from Hyderabad said, “The Hyderabad City police, instead of allaying the fears of Rahmat, has gone ahead and arrested him. And for what? For speaking about his fears? Nowhere in the supposed voice message does he encourage any violence or provoked any one. Instead, he talks about defensive measures only.”
He went on to say that it was shocking that the police “has taken this sort of action against Rahmat, who said whatever he said as a layman, when those who are shouting provocative slogans "Deshh ke Ghaddaro ko - Goli Maaro Saalo ko" openly are roaming free on the streets.”
However, the Hyderabad Commissioner maintained that both issues are different. Responding to the allegation, he said, “That is a different problem. Please don’t mix up both issues.”