Reprinted Charlie Hebdo cartoon: Newspaper vendors in Mumbai discharged from case

The newspaper vendors, who were picked up by the JJ police for selling copies of Urdu daily, Avadhnama that had reprinted a controversial cartoon from the French magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’, can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Sharif Sheikh (in yellow) and Salman Sheikh. File pic
Sharif Sheikh (in yellow) and Salman Sheikh. File pic

A local court on Thursday discharged Sharif Sheikh and Salman Sheikh, who were arrested on February 4 under Section 295 (A) (acts intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code.

While the vendors thanked mid-day for reporting the incident, they said that the 24-hour lockup will haunt them for the rest of their lives. On February 5, mid-day had carried the story about the arrest of the two newspaper vendors. Following a huge protest over their arrest, the Commissioner of Police, Rakesh Maria, had initiated an inquiry into the matter.

On Thursday, the police submitted their report to the Metropolitan Magistrate Court in Mazgaon under Section 169 CrPC. Observing that there was insufficient evidence, the judge discharged the newspaper vendors. DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni said, “After the CP’s assurance, the report under section 169 CrPC was submitted in court and both the vendors were discharged from the case.”

Sharif said, “I am very thankful to mid-day, as I have been discharged from the case. I will not be able to forget those 24 hours when the cops came and put me in jail. Inside, I only had thoughts about my family and cried a lot. It was strange that within a few minutes, I was inside a jail, without knowing the reason why, or when I will be able to come out.

I still get scared when I remember that time.” Salman said, “I am happy that the charges were dropped. I am not tensed anymore and am focusing on my work now.”

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