Sambhal: Editor-in-chief of news channel arrested for spreading communal tension
Editor-in-chief of Hindi news channel Sudarshan, Suresh Chavanke, was arrested on charges of inciting communal tension and hurting religious sentiments in Sambhal district of Uttar Pradesh. An FIR was lodged against Chavanke and his colleagues by the Kotwali police station-in-charge Brij Mohan Giri on April 10. He was nabbed from the Lucknow airport a day before he was scheduled to visit violence-hit Sambhal.
Sambhal: Locals, police clash over 'cow smuggling' investigation
Uttar Pradesh's Sambhal district has been on the boil since locals on March 29 attacked police teams who were investigating alleged cattle smuggling in the district. Many personnel were injured in the clashes as rioters damaged vehicles and set fire to shops. Residents alleged police harassed women and "insulted" the Quran, which personnel denied. Few people were later arrested.
The constant threat of communal tension in Sambhal
Sambhal, where Muslims are in majority, frequently witnesses communal violence. In late 2016, at least two incidents of tension were reported: when Muslims allegedly forcibly stopped work on a temple in October, and after Hindus kidnapped Muslim pilgrims from a bus in November.
Chavanke faces charges of rape, fraud
Chavanke also faced charges of rape, attempt to murder and fraud in November'16. A former employee of Sudarshan News alleged he had raped her in October. He had also allegedly taken cash and assets worth Rs. 27L from her, while promising he would marry her.
Sudarshan allegedly aired provocative content
Residents claimed that Sudarshan News had been airing programmes titled 'Sambhal ko Kashmir Banane ki Saazish' ('The plot to Make Sambhal Like Kashmir'), and 'Hari Mandir ka Sach, Jama Masjid ka Jhooth' ('The truth of Hari Mandir, the Lies of Jama Masjid') between April 6-8, even as the region remained tense. Chavanke had also announced he would conduct a puja inside the Jama Masjid.
'Media cannot be free to spread communal disharmony'
The government assured action against Sudarshan News. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, "Media's independence is one thing, but it cannot be so free that it spreads communal disharmony in various parts of the country."
Heavy security in place, more arrests made
Police also arrested Congress leader Israt Hussain Babar for allegedly threatening Chavhanke and his supporters. Meanwhile, police teams were deployed at public spots and roads throughout the region to ensure peace. Muslim groups have announced they will help police nab the alleged cattle smugglers; VHP also declared maintaining peace is of "prime importance".