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'Arrest Nikhil' Azmi shoots off letter to CM based on WhatsApp hoax

Samajwadi Party leader writes to CM demanding the arrest of one Nikhil Tikone for uploading images which had caused violence in city and Pune. Why? Because WhatsApp messages said he was guilty

Why bother with things like policing, investigation and trials when you have WhatsApp to tell you who the criminals are? That is exactly what Samajwadi Party’s MLA and state unit chief Abu Azmi seems to think.

Samajwadi Party’s MLA and state unit chief Abu Azmi
Samajwadi Party’s MLA and state unit chief Abu Azmi

In a letter to no less than the chief minister and the home minister, Azmi has asked the state government to immediately act against one Nikhil Tikone alias Nihal Khan for uploading defamatory images of Bal Thackeray and Shivaji, which led to violence in Pune.

A portion of Azmi’s letter
A portion of Azmi’s letter

Not only has Azmi claimed that it “has been proved” that Tikone had uploaded the pictures, he also wants the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) to be slapped on him.

How has it been proved, you might ask, especially since both the Mumbai and Pune police seem to be clueless about Tikone’s involvement? Simple: The MLA got messages on WhatsApp about it.

Official letter
Azmi, who represents Mankhurd-Shivaji Nagar in the Maharashtra assembly, wrote the letter on his official MLA letterhead last Thursday.

Delivered to the CM and home minister’s office last Friday, the letter states: “It is proved that a planned criminal conspiracy was hatched by the accused persons and main culprit Nikhil Tikone, who posted the images as Nehal Khan.”

When mid-day spoke to Azmi about this, he said, “I strongly demand that MCOCA be invoked against the accused Nikhil Tikone. I got the name of the accused from WhatsApp. I had received a message with this name and hence I wrote it in my letter. I am asking for MCOCA to be applied as the other laws are not very stringent.”

Copspeak
To confirm whether Azmi’s accusations had any substance, we contacted DIG (Law and Order) Deven Bharti, who is heading investigations into the case.

We asked him whether any person named Nikhil Tikone or Nihal Khan has been identified or arrested for uploading the defamatory images on Facebook. He replied with a plain “No”. Pune Police Commissioner Satish Mathur, too, said no one by the name of Nihal Khan or Nikhil Tikone was being investigated in connection with the case.

Police officials said what they had found so far was that the images were uploaded using proxy servers and that too from different countries. When we told Azmi what the police had said, he replied, “I got the message on WhatsApp and want the government to find the accused and apply MCOCA.”

Past blunders
In a bizarre and grotesque statement, Abu Azmi had told mid-day in April that women who were raped should also be punished. “Rape is punishable by hanging in Islam. But here, nothing happens to women, only to men. Even the woman is guilty,” he had said. In May, Azmi had said that Muslims who do not vote for the Samajwadi Party are not true Muslims. He went on to add that their DNA test must be conducted to check if they are from the RSS.

Victim, not accused
Several newspapers, including this one, had clarified, quoting police officers, that Pune resident Nikhil Tikone, whose photos were doing the rounds on WhatsApp as the one who had posted the objectionable photos, was actually a victim of stone pelting.

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