Case filed against Katiyar for blasphemy
16 March 2002
The Times of India
M SALEEM PANDIT
SRINAGAR: The Srinagar Sessions Court on Saturday accepted petitions seeking prosecution of BJP MP Vinay Katiyar for his alleged blasphemous remarks on the Moo-e-Muqaddas (sacred hair) of Prophet Mohammad preserved at the Hazratbal shrine.The petitioners - senior Supreme Court lawyer Muzaffar Hussian Beig, a local journalist and the Kashmir Bar Association - had sought the permission of the Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday before filing their complaints.Vinay Katiyar’s reported statement that ‘‘the sacred hair was in fact the beard of a Hindu saint who had migrated from Mecca’’ had been published in a national daily last week. This had created a ruckus in the state assembly on Thursday, and on Friday, the police fired teargas shells to disperse violent protestors at two places in Kashmir, where a total strike was observed in protest against the alleged remarks.The complainants said the statement was made to promote disharmony between the Hindu and Muslim communities. ‘‘The statement has hurt the religious sentiments of the Muslims and intends to incite them,’’ the complainants said.Recalling the early Sixties, the complainants stated that when the holy relic had disappeared mysteriously, the entire population - Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs - had come out on the streets and staged unparalleled demonstrations for weeks. Peace was restored in the state only when the holy relic was found and returned to the shrine, the complianants said in their petition.The complaint further said that ‘‘any deed or statement made by any person which tends to cast a shadow of aspersion or tends to pollute or denigrate the sacred image of the holy relic deeply offends and outrages the religious feelings of the Muslims, in general, and of Kashmiri Muslims, in particular.’’According to the complainants, the offending statement of the BJP MP is ‘‘politically motivated’’ and ‘‘a sinister attempt to extend the grasp of the evil arm of the fascist and communal monster to the valley of Kashmir’’.The government’s permission for filing the complaint against the BJP MP stated that ‘‘the district magistrate, after careful examination of the material placed on record by the complainants, is convinced that criminal case was made out for persecution of the MP’’.On Friday, shops and business establishments remained closed and all modes of transport barring three-wheelers remained off the roads in response to the strike call given by the J&K Students’ Union. Agitated youths, raising slogans against the BJP and the ruling National Conference and demanding the arrest of Katiyar, took to the streets in many parts of Srinagar.