In a temporary relief to Twitter India managing director Manish Maheshwari, the Karnataka High Court has granted him protection from arrest by the Uttar Pradesh Police in connection with a case related to the viral video of a Muslim man being assaulted by a group of people. The court has also clarified that Maheshwari, a resident of Bengaluru, will not have to travel to UP at this time to appear before the police and record his statement.
“This matter needs further consideration,” the single-judge bench of Justice G Narender said reserving orders till June 29. The court also directed authorities to refrain from taking any coercive action against Maheshwari till then.
The UP Police, however, raised an objection saying that the court’s order meant that the Twitter chief has been granted anticipatory bail. The court said that it is not stopping the investigation in the case and if the police desire to investigate, they may do so by virtual mode.
Notably, Maheshwari had earlier replied to the UP Police’s summon saying that he was not directly linked to the case and was ready to appear before the UP police through video call. The police had rejected his reply and stressed that he will have to appear in person.
What Maheshwari said
During Thursday’s hearing, Maheshwari had told the Karnataka High Court: “In two days, the notices (from the police) to me changed from witness to accused.”
He pointed out that on June 17 UP Police sent him a notice identifying him as a witness (under Section 160 of Code of Criminal Procedure). Two days later, they sent him another that listed him as an accused (under Section 41 of the CrPC, which would have allowed his arrest). “I have nothing to do with any of the allegations… some accused uploaded a video but they have registered an FIR against me,” he contended.
Recently, Twitter, several journalists and Congress leaders were named in an FIR in Ghaziabad. The FIR, filed by UP police, had accused them of provocation and inciting communal violence.
Sufi Abdul Samad, the man who had been assaulted, had alleged that the attackers cut off his beard and forced him to chant ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Jai Shri Krishna’.
UP police refuted the allegations after launching a probe and said there was nothing communal about the incident. They claimed that the man had been attacked by a group of Hindus and Muslims who were angry at him for selling fake amulets.
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