iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
On November 3, the Uttar Pradesh police arrested Faisal Khan a member of an organization working towards communal harmony, for offering prayers at a temple in Mathura on October 29.
Khan, who was arrested from Delhi’s Jamia Nagar area, is the national convenor of the Khudai Khidmatgar (Servants of God), founded by freedom fighter Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan – popularly known as Frontier Gandhi.
The Uttar Pradesh Police have arrested Khan on charges under section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion), and 505 (public mischief).
He was arrested for doing namaz inside a Hindu temple, which in turn angered many Hindutva group citing that he was Khan was creating religious tension.
Now on this International Human Rights Day, Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), and Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) held a press conference to call on the Indian government to immediately and unconditionally release Khan from prison.
Sunita Viswanath of Hindus for Human Rights laid out the simple facts of the case, “Faisal Khan was arrested because he did namaz in the courtyard of a Hindu temple. The truth is that the priest invited him to pray there, but four days later the same priest filed a police complaint against Khan and he was arrested on November 3, more than a month ago.”
Colin Gonsalves, Khan’s Legal Counsel, stated that even though evidence in the form of videos and photographs were made available to the court proving that Khan asked to go outside to offer namaz, and that it was the temple priest who instead asked him to pray on the temple premises, the judge refused to view the video and later wrote in his ruling that no evidence was offered by the defense. Mr. Gonsalves expressed cautious optimism that the courts will soon release him.
After the arrest, the members of the Khudai Khidmatgar apologized if any person or organization felt that their sentiments were hurt as it was not their intention to do so. The group also shared a video of Faisal speaking to people in the temple.
Viswanath, spoke of the importance of Hindus voices of resistance against Hindutva, “Hindus for Human Rights has a special voice in calling for his release as progressive and inclusive Hindus who live by the spirit of ‘vasudhaiva kutumbakam’ which means that all the universe is one family and that we are one.”
Minhaj Khan, the Indian American Muslim Council, spoke of Faisal Khan’s arrest in the context of the targeting and arrests of Muslims across India, especially in the state of Uttar Pradesh: “The arrest of Faisal Khan by the Uttar Pradesh Government is a vindictive act of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, whose hatred for Muslims has long been well known.”
Rajmohan Gandhi, the grandson of Mohandas K. Gandhi, talked about the history of Khudai Kidmatgar and the role Faisal Khan is playing in reviving this movement for interfaith peace and harmony.
“Most Hindus would like their Muslim brothers and sisters to enjoy dignity and equality. I urge them to speak out and demand justice for Faisal Khan, and for all who are being denied their rights.”