Officers from Mumbai Crime Branch Unit-IX and a special investigating team (SIT) of Bhopal police arrested two persons in the city last week for posting and sharing offensive images of Hindu deities and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Facebook. The uploads — posted in the first week of May — created a furore in Gautam Nagar and Hanuman Ganj areas of Bhopal after local Hindu outfits threatened massive protests if the miscreants were not brought to book at the earliest.
Ali Sheikh (in shorts) and Abdul Qureshi (to his left) after being taken into custody by the Bhopal police’s SIT team
Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) KMM Prasanna said, “The Bhopal police sought our help to nab the miscreants. Officers from Crime Branch Unit-IX investigated the case and cracked it within no time. The accused are now in the custody of the Bhopal police SIT.”
The accused were identified as Antop Hill residents Ali Hassan Sheikh (32) and Abdul Qayyum Qureshi (31). While Sheikh works as a bodyguard for a builder, Qureshi owns an electronic goods shop.
Inspector Jitendra Pathak from Hanuman Ganj police station, Bhopal, told mid-day over the phone, “An FIR was registered against two persons on May 10 for uploading objectionable images of Hindu deities and PM Modi on a Facebook group called Naadan Parinde. This created tension in the area, following which an SIT was formed to solve the case. A few local Hindu outfits warned of massive protests and closure of all temples in the area if the miscreants weren’t nabbed soon. While Sheikh uploaded the images, Qureshi shared them with obscene comments. Both are currently in judicial custody.”
A case was registered under sections 291 (continuance of nuisance after injunction to discontinue) and 295 (injuring or defiling a place of worship with the intent to insult the religion of any class) of the IPC against the duo.
“We scrutinised their Facebook profiles and came across a few selfies — one with a high-end car. Investigation revealed that the vehicle belonged to Red Chillies Entertainment. This gave us a hint that they could be employees of this production house and our team left for Mumbai.”
Commenting on the joint operation, Mahesh Desai, senior inspector from Unit-IX, said investigation from their end revealed that none of the accused worked for the said production house.
“While scanning their friends’ lists, we discovered that Sheikh was friends with a police constable, Anand Rajput of Local Arms Unit-II. In his profile picture, the constable was standing in front of Mumbai police’s Force One building located in Kalina. We immediately despatched a team and brought Rajput to our Bandra office,” he added.
During questioning, Rajput refused to acknowledge Sheikh as his friend, saying the only reason Sheikh was on his friend’s list was because they shared a common interest in bodybuilding. The police then devised a plan to trap Sheikh.
A police officer said, “Rajput was asked to send a message to Sheikh on Facebook, asking him to share tips on building a physique like his, and whether he would be okay with sharing his diet and workout regime with him. Once Sheikh shared his number with Rajput, he was nabbed from Antop Hill, followed by Qureshi. The two were arrested on May 19.”