13 persons arrested, charged with sedition for sloganeering inside Jama Masjid: Police
Srinagar: Thirteen people have been arrested and booked for sedition in connection with the “anti-national” sloganeering inside the Srinagar’s famous Jama Masjid here yesterday, police said on Saturday.
“The accused had received instructions from Pakistani handlers of terror outfits to disrupt Friday prayers and create a law and order situation by provoking people,” Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Srinagar Rakesh Balwal said.
The sloganeering took place after the culmination of congregational prayers at Jama Masjid in Nowhatta area of the city on Friday with around 24,000 people in attendance — the largest in recent history, Balwal said.
In addition to the sedition charge, those arrested will also be booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA), he added.
“About a dozen people started anti-national and provocative sloganeering for a while. They were joined by a few others even though most of the gathering remained aloof,” he said.
“There was also an altercation between the persons indulging in sloganeering and the volunteers of Intezamia (managing) Committee of the mosque who tried to stop the sloganeering and hooliganism,” he added.
This led to clashes between the two sides, the SSP said, adding that the “hooligans” were evicted from the mosque by the volunteers.
“Even after coming outside, more than a dozen of them tried to provoke others by continuing to raise provocative slogans but failed. They then dispersed seeing the police presence around,” he said.
Balwal said a case was registered under sections 124A (sedition) and 447 (criminal trespass) of the Indian Penal Code at the Nowhatta police Station.
“During the course of the investigation, technical means were adapted to identify the hooligans and raids were conducted at different locations which led to the arrest of two main instigators of sloganeering — Basharat Nabi Bhat, resident of Hawal, and Umar Manzoor Sheikh, resident of Bahauddin Saheb, Nowhatta,” he said.
Both have been formally arrested in the case.
“Eleven more accused were subsequently arrested in this case who were involved in the sloganeering and hooliganism inside the Jama Masjid and at the gate,” the SSP said.
Several more suspected people are being examined and will be formally arrested as soon as their role in this case becomes clear, he said.
Public Safety Act (PSA) dossiers of all these accused are being prepared for booking them under PSA as well, he said.
The accused “in furtherance of a well-planned conspiracy had received instructions from Pakistani handlers of terror outfits to disrupt Friday prayers in Jama Masjid and create law and order situation by provoking the attendees”, the SSP said.
“Thus section 120B (criminal conspiracy) was also invoked in this case,” he added.
The investigation in this case is going on at a fast pace and some more arrests are likely, he said.
“Srinagar police informs all citizens that attempts to disrupt peace will be viewed very seriously and strictest action under provisions of law will be taken against all those who get involved in such illegal activities,” the SSP warned.
Balwal said no attempt at using religious places for “furthering anti-national and terrorist agenda” will be tolerated at all.
He also advised parents to keep a watch on the company of their children as indulging in such activities may cause irreparable damage to their career prospects. (With PTI inputs)
Kashmir Images is an English language daily newspaper published from Srinagar (J&K), India. The newspaper is one of the largest circulated English dailies of Kashmir and its hard copies reach every nook and corner of Kashmir Valley besides Jammu and Ladakh region.