"I am not angry with Munawar (Faruqui), he is also a child like my son. He has not seen the world like I have. Munawar tried to make people laugh as a comedian. He did not think about how our lives have been polarised, how people are thinking in today's times and how everyone is particularly looking at Muslims. He had no clue my son would get arrested after him."
These are the words of 46-year-old Liaqat Khan, father of Munawar's friend Sadakat Khan who was arrested in the same FIR that the comedian was. The Quint spoke to Khan, Sadakat's friends Abdullah, Sagar and Saad, to find out how Sadakat landed in Indore from Mumbai, got arrested by MP Police and ended up spending (at least) 27 days in jail.
While Munawar, comic Prakhar Vyas, Pratik Vyas, Edwin Anthony and Nalin Yadav were detained on 1 January and arrested on 2 January, Sadakat was detained and arrested on 2 January. He was not named in the FIR and was arrested on the accusation of being a co-organiser of the event. “He has nothing to do with comedy, not a producer or a comedian himself. He works in construction,” his friend Sagar says.
On 2 January, an FIR had been registered by Madhya Pradesh Police against all six men on charges of Section 295-A (outraging religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 298 (uttering words with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings), 269 (negligent act likely to cause spread of disease), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
"Yes, My Son Was Slapped. What is the Point of Being Angry?"
27-year-old Sadakat has three siblings and worked as a contractor on construction sites. His family tells us Sadakat had decided to go to surprise Munawar as well as meet his old maternal grandmother in Indore. His father was the one who dropped Sadakat to the bus stand in the morning, that is when he took this picture...
Within 48 hours, their son's video of being thrashed and abused by an unidentified person, while policemen escorted him to jail, went viral. That is when they started getting calls and finally got their hands on the video to see it for themselves. When asked what Liaqat thought when he saw the video, he said calmly, "I think they thought Sadakat was Munawar. While hitting him they ask how he could insult their Gods. This is something my son did not do, therefore these men were then misinformed. What is the point of any anger here? If he has not committed a crime and is still being called a criminal, then I will only consider the person who slapped him innocent right?"
Currently only Munawar and Nalin Yadav from the accused have moved Madhya Pradesh High Court (Indore bench) for bail, the other four accused, Sadakat Khan, comic Prakhar Vyas, Pratik Vyas and Edwin Anthony are yet to. When we asked Sadakat’s father why he had not yet, he said, “We are worried that there bail applications will be rejected, if that happens then we will lose more hope. So just waiting and see what happens, then we will decide.”
The bail order for Munawar and Nalin is going to be delivered on 28 January. On the hearing on 25 January, the judge while listening to arguments for bail, said that “such people must not be spared” while referring to the alleged jokes cracked by Faruqui.
Liaqat says the attack on Munawar is an indication of how social harmony is depreciating in the country as Muslims are not being allowed to be themselves. "In logo ne chaaro taraf se Musalmaano ko dabakar rakha hai. Sachai yahi hai ki apni taraf se bolne waala koi nahi hai. Vakeel bhi pressure mein kaam kar rahaan hai. Hum apne halaath ke baarein mein kuch nahi kar sakte hai. (There is pressure on Muslims from all sides and the fact is that there is no one to speak for us. Even the lawyer, who is working for us, is working under pressure. We can't do anything about our predicament)," he said.
Khan says he and his family believe, that even if Sadakat is to get his bail late, he will get it. "I am proud that my son Sadakat was there for his friend Munawar, when he needed him. He will get bail sooner or later, he will come out, he has done no wrong but been there for a friend," he said.
'Reliabe, Warm Person Who Stood By His Friends'
His friends Abdullah, Saad and Sagar said Sadakat became a part of the group in mid 2020. "He had come for one of Munawar's shows and then stayed back after. He was a fan who turned into being a good friend of Munawar over time," Saad said. "He was the kind of friend who was always there for his friends, always stood by them. He was simple, happy and warm as a person. Liked to eat good food, go out for rides, attend all the comedy nights together. He was not a comedian or producer. We still can not believe that this has happened," Sagar said.
All three had said they had spoken to Sadakat after Munawar had been arrested. He was giving them updates and was also the one who reached out to the family. His friends say that Sadakat was a reliable good friend who they trusted considering the situation. Recalling one of the instances where Sadakat was always around, Saad said, "Whenever Munawar needed to go to the airport late at night, Sadakat would always be there to drop his friend. If we hung out together and he was not around, one call to him and Sadakat would be there."
Abdullah recalls how Sadakat called him on 1 January evening and asked him to urgently send him Munawar's father's number. When asked why, he said, "Munawar said he was in Indore and had gone there to give Munawar a surprise. Show main kuch masla hogaya hai bhai, lawyer bol rahaan hai ki aage karenge sab, lekin uske pehle uske family se baat karne ka hai (There were some problems in the show, the lawyer is saying that he will do what is needed ahead, but wants to talk to the family first,)" he said. All three were in touch with Sadakat about what was happening to Munawar.
Since the morning of 2 January, the three friends tried to reach Sadakat but his phone was switched off. This is when they too saw the video of Sadakat being arrested. "Sadakat has done nothing whatsoever. He had literally just gone there to surprise his friend. On one hand these people have arrested Munawar for a joke he did not crack and on the other hand they have arrested his friend for just being present there? What is this justice system?," Abdullah asked.
. Read more on India by The Quint.JEE MAIN 2021: JEE Main Correction Window Open till Jan 30‘Proud That My Son, Sadakat, Stood By His Friend Munawar Faruqui’ . Read more on India by The Quint.