Maharashtra plan to invoke Official Secrets Act

MUMBAI: Former AMU student Sharjeel Usmani, accused of hurting religious sentiments with his comments at last week’s Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune, will be arrested from whichever state he is in, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said on Wednesday.

He said police have conducted a probe into the video clippings of the conclave, held on January 30, and a case has been registered against Usmani, a Uttar Pradesh resident, for his “offensive remarks”.

The Pune police on Tuesday registered a case against Usmani, a former student leader of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), under IPC Section 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups on the ground religion, etc), a senior official said.

The opposition BJP in Maharashtra had demanded action against Usmani, accusing him of “hurting religious sentiments” with his speech at the event.

Deshmukh, in a tweet, said, “Police have investigated the video clippings of the Elgar event held on 30th in Pune & a case has been registered against Sharjeel Usmani for his offensive remarks.

“He is not currently in MH (Maharashtra) but we will arrest him from whichever state he is in be it Bihar, UP, Gujarat or elsewhere,” the minister added.

Earlier, Pradip Gavade, a local leader of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the BJP’s youth wing, had filed a complaint against Usmani at the Swargate police station in Pune, an official said.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil on Wednesday wrote a letter to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath seeking his help in arresting Usmani.

Patil, who made contents of the letter public, urged Adityanath to give orders to authorities in his state to file an FIR against the former AMU student.

Patil, in the letter, also came down heavily on Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray over the issue.

Sharjeel Usmani, in his January 30 speech at Elgar Parishad in Pune, had allegedly hurt the sentiments of Hindus.

We appeal you (Adityanath) to give orders of filing an FIR and arresting him.

“He should face the strictest possible action. It should set an example in the country so that no one dares to use such words again in the future, the former state minister said.

The state BJP chief said Usmani is an alumnus of the Aligarh Muslim University and a resident of Sidhari town in Azamgarh district.

Patil said Usmanis speech was seditious in nature.

He made his speech with an intension to spread hatred.

The use of such language against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other constitutional institutions is not less than an act of sedition,” Patil said.

“The 12.5 crore people of Maharashtra are convinced that Uddhav Thackerays government would not take any action against him as the incident took place five days back,” he said.

Senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday demanded action against Usmani, alleging that he “insulted sentiments of the Hindu community”.

During the January 30 conclave, writer-activist Arundhati Roy, Justice (retd) B G Kolse Patil and former IPS officer S M Mushrif were among those who addressed the gathering.

Three years ago, several Left-leaning activists were arrested by police for alleged Naxal links following the December 31, 2017, Elgar Parishad conclave and the caste violence at Pune’s Koregaon-Bhima war memorial the next day.