Musharraf Husain charged with “intent to hurt religious sentiments”

The Uttar Pradesh police on Thursday booked Musharraf Husain, a newly-elected municipal corporator in Aligarh, for “malicious intent of outraging religious sentiment” after he took oath in Urdu on Monday. Mr. Husain was beaten up and assaulted, allegedly by Bharatiya Janata Party councillors, after he took oath in Urdu.

The complaint against Mr. Husain, a corporator from the Bahujan Samaj Party, was filed by a BJP corporator Pushpendra Kumar in Banna Devi police station.

Mr. Kumar alleged that Mr. Husain taking oath in Urdu had led to “a possibility of breakdown of law and order”. He also alleged that while every other corporator was taking oath in Hindi, Mr. Husain took oath in Urdu “with the intention to provoke and hurt religious sentiments of other people”.

Charges denied

The police registered a case against Mr.. Husain under Section 295 A of the IPC (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs). Mr. Husain rejected the charge and showed the rulebook. “This case is clearly an instance of political vendetta and bullying. They want to communalise even Urdu which is symbolic of our syncretic culture. Urdu is not related to any religion. So my taking oath in Urdu does not provoke or hurt anyone’s religious feelings,” he told The Hindu .

“Till this morning, at least when I woke up, India was still a democracy and as per the law Urdu and Hindi are official languages in Uttar Pradesh. As far as I know the rules an oath can be taken in any of the 22 languages in the Constitution – Urdu is one of them,” he added. Mr. Husain said he would approach the court against the police FIR.

The swearing in ceremony in Aligarh became violent with the corporators from the BJP and the BSP engaging in fights. BJP corporators protested when a few BSP and SP corporators took the oath in Urdu.

Some religious slogans were also raised during the fight.