In signs that the Islamist intolerance for atheist bloggers that has led to several brutal hackings in Bangladesh is now spreading across the border into West Bengal, blogger Tarak Biswas was arrested last Thursday minutes after he made a social media post criticizing Islam. Biswas had been writing against all kinds of blind faith and other religious malpractices for some time now, but the post on Islam led to his arrest.
As per this report –
“A freethinker blogger from Bengal, Tarak Biswas was arrested on Thursday for posting updates on the social media for criticising Islam religion. On Thursday, minutes after Biswas posted a message on the social media, one Sanaullah Khan registered a complaint with the Cyber Police Station of the Howrah Police Commissionerate demanding his arrest. According to the locals, Khan is a local leader from the ruling- Trinamool Congress party.
Locals allege that the police picked up Biswas from his residence in the wee hours of Thursday night. According to the police, Tarak was arrested on charges of 295 A, 298 of the Indian Penal Code (hurting religious sentiments and hate speech), besides 66, 67 and 67A of the IT Act (posting, sending offensive messages through communication services). Later, he was produced before the local court, where he was remanded to seven days of police custody. “Sanaullah Khan had registered an FIR against Biswas for hurting religious sentiments. Based on the complaint filed, we arrested him. Presently he is in police custody,” said a senior police officer of the Howrah Police Commissionerate.”
Here is an earlier FB post from Tarak Biswas where he exhorts people to reject both Hindu and Muslim religions –
Have IPC Section 295 and 153 become blasphemy laws?
Rights groups have criticized the WB State Government for arresting Biswas as a serious infringement on the right to free speech. But they do not have much hopes from CM Mamta Banerjee, seeing that a few years back she had a professor arrested for circulating a cartoon on herself, and going by her appeasement of Muslim fundamentalists for votebank politics.
Protests are also gathering pace on the internet. “Freedom of speech is of utmost importance… Someone can’t be arrested for criticising a religion… Be it whichever religion…. We demand Tarak Biswas’s release immediately,” said one Shreyasi Roy on social media.
Another user on the social media, Supriyo Lahiri wrote, “Utter shame and outrage in Didir Shonar Bangla. An independent blogger Tarak Das was crusading against all kinds of blind faith, religious malpractice of all religions, for some time. Now police has arrested him! Within a short time the administration will bring the situation where atheists and independent thinkers will be butchered at will by fundamentalists, like they have been doing in Bangladesh.”
Interestingly, the same TMC local leader Sanaullah Khan who filed the FIR against Tarak Biswas, has been found to be abusing Hindu scriptures, mocking Hindu swamis and threatening people on social media –
This incident yet again shows that Hindus are far more open to criticism of their socio-religious practices compared to adherents of Abrahamic religions – questioning scriptures, dialogue between different schools of thought, and challenging orthodox views is a core part of Hindu tradition. But instead of crediting Hindus for this openness, our critics often misuse this tolerance to indulge in abuse, falsehoods and clever Hinduphobic distortions.
Slapping of draconian NSA against Kamlesh Tiwari and now the arrest of Tarak Biswas show that laws like IPC 295 and 153 have effectively become anti-blasphemy laws to protect Islam.
What do our free speech champions, ‘Rising Intolerance’ brigade, and Award-Wapsi gang have to say now?
(Disclaimer: Social media posts embedded in this article have been shared by Shri Arnab Mitra @ASM_BJP)