The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Gujarat police detained Vikhroli resident Mufti Salman Azhari from his home in Mumbai for making alleged inflammatory remarks during a speech in Gujarat on January 31.
Hundreds of people including some politicians gathered outside the Ghatkopar police station, where he was taken for completing legal formalities before being taken to Gujarat. They raised slogans praising Azhari as god’s messenger and demanding his release, prompting the police to make him request them to maintain peace using a loudspeaker.
A police officer said it was difficult for Gujarat police to take him to their state owing to the crowd and legal issues. “The punishment for sections he has been booked under is less than seven years, so an arrest may not be required,” the officer said.
On January 31, Mufti gave an allegedly inflammatory speech during a programme at Narayan Vidya Mandir near Junagadh court, which was attended by a large number of people. Gujarat police registered a suo moto FIR in the matter at the Junagadh police station after a video of the speech went viral on social media.
On Sunday morning, Azhari posted on X that his society was surrounded by around 25-30 policemen since the early hours. At around noon, officials from Gujarat ATS, Mumbai ATS and the Chirag Nagar police station, under whose jurisdiction he lives, broke into his house, detained him and took him to Ghatkopar police station, said officials.
Meanwhile, people from Govandi, Chembur, Sakinaka, Vikhroli, Cheetah Camp and Malad began gathering outside the Ghatkopar police station, registering their protest and demanding his release. The crowd started increasing after 6pm and reached around a thousand at its peak. They raised slogans demanding Azhari’s release and blocked the police station gate and adjacent road.
Azhari was finally deputed to address the crowd from the second floor of the police station using a loudspeaker requesting them not to take the law into their hands and clear the roadblock.
“The police should give him a notice under section 41(a) (of CrPC) and release him. He has so many followers who fear that if police take him to Gujarat, they will arrest him and not release him,” said a protester from Sakinaka.
Around 200 personnel from the State Reserve Police Force were deployed to control the crowd. At around 10:45pm, when the crowd became aggressive and stopped a bus on the road, police used mild force to disperse the gathering after warning them for five minutes, said officials.