Behind the bars but Azhari’s popularity remains intact - Vibes Of India

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Behind the bars but Azhari’s popularity remains intact

| Updated: February 25, 2024 18:51

Islamic cleric Mufti Salman Azhari, who had been granted bail in cases related to allegedly provocative speeches registered by Ahmedabad police, was arrested by the Vadodara Police after the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASA) was invoked against him. He was moved to Vadodara Central Jail amid heavy security measures on account of his many followers who had gathered outside the prison.

Azhari is a student of the Sunni Barelvi school of Islam and attended Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt. Based in Mumbai, he is a Sunni researcher. According to his bio on X (previously Twitter), he is the founder of the Al-Amaan Educational and Welfare Trust and the religious institute Jamia Riyazul Jannah. It has been said that prior to his rise in popularity and invitations from the Muslim community nationwide, he served as an imam at the Panke Shah Baba Dargah in Ghatkopar, Mumbai.

Social media helped Azhari gather a sizable following, especially among young people. His online presence expanded as a result of his lectures becoming viral on social media. Videos of his nationwide religious sermons are often shared on social media by his public relations machinery. So much so that even after his arrest, Azhari’s team has actively posted updates on the status of the various cases against him on his social media handles. He has over 92,000 followers on X and 7.83 lakh followers on Instagram, according to media outlets.

Following the “hate speech” that Azhari delivered in Junagadh on January 31, the Gujarat police detained him in Mumbai on February 5. He was then taken into custody by Kutch East police on February 8 after they filed a report about his January 31 provocative statement in Samakhiyari hamlet in the Kutch area.

He was taken by a Gujarati police team that had travelled to Mumbai to apprehend him after a gathering of about 3,000 people gathered outside the Ghatkopar police station. In the end, the Mumbai Police had to lathicharge to make sure the masses didn’t block the route.

The Gujarat police then registered a third case was registered against him in addition to Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 153(B) (promoting enmity between different religious groups) and 505(2) (making statements conducive to public mischief).

In addition, he was charged under Section 298 for words that hurt the religious feelings of any person while speaking in Modasa. The cops also invoked the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against him for making alleged derogatory remarks against the SC community.

After getting bail for two earlier cases, the Vadodara Police invoked the PASA against him, following which he was arrested again.

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