Giridih, Jharkhand —Shakir Hussain, a Mukhiya candidate and four others were arrested for raising 'Pakistan Zindabad' slogans while filing the nomination for the upcoming Panchayat elections at Gandey Block of Giridh district in Jharkhand.
Four days after the incident, no mainstream media, which ran the video without even using the word 'allegedly', reached out to the families of the accused or the people present at the rally to know their version of the story.
On Sunday, a video went viral. The video purportedly showed Shakir Hussain's rally where 'Pakistan Zindabad' slogans were raised.
However, the villagers who were present during the campaign rally for Mohammed Shakir Hussain told BOOM that no slogans of 'Pakistan Zindabad' was raised.
After a video by News18 went viral, an FIR was lodged against Shakir Hussain and four others under several sections of the Indian Penal Code, including but not limited to Section 124A (sedition) and Section 153A (disturbing public peace).
Soon, other media channels followed suit quoting police officials, without speaking to the people present at the nomination rally.
BOOM reached the Dokodih panchayat and talked to the locals; they refuted the allegations.
"I was present at the spot, about which the claim is being made in a viral video that Pakistan Zindabad was chanted. When Shakir Bhaiya get down from his vehicle, supporters got elated and sloganeered Shakir Hussain Zindabad, Shere-e-Shakir Zindabad and Dokidih Ka Mukhiya Kaisa Ho, Shakir Hussain Jaisa Ho," Shaikh Aslam told BOOM.
Mohammed Fahim, who was also present at the spot along with Aslam, made a similar claim.
Mahadev Mia, a Jharkhand andolankari, who gets Rs 3,000 per month from the Jharkhand government for his role in the statehood movement, said, "There was no chanting of Pakistan Zindabad during the rally. We neither did it nor will do it in the future. We love India and will die for our country."
Mahadev too has been accused of sedition and the police had rushed to arrest him. In an attempt to dodge the police, he fractured his leg.
"Today also the police came, but this time they did not arrest me. However, they asked me to surrender along with the rest accused or they will arrest us soon," rued Mahadev.
BOOM found another video clip from the locals from the same time and place. The locals present at the rally say "Shakir Shaan Zindabad" was the slogan raised, which news channels reported as "Pakistan Zindabad".
BOOM, however, couldn't independently verify whether "Pakistan Zindabad" slogans were raised at the rally in Jharkhand.
Who Is Shakir Hussain, The Arrested Mukhiya Candidate?
Shakir, 49, has been an active social worker in the Dokodih Panchayat, 25 kilometers from the district headquarters. His family claims he has connections with all political leaders. His wife Saleha Khatoon has been the Mukhiya too. The panchayat got a National Panchayat Award 2020 under her leadership.
During the ongoing panchayat election in Jharkhand, the seat has been unreserved. Hence, this time Shakir decided to contest for the position. On April 20, he filed his nominations.
Later that evening, News 18 Bihar-Jharkhand ran a video claiming 'Pakistan Zindabad' was chanted when Shakir entered the block office, which was also the nomination center. The channel also claimed that neither the candidate nor police personnel deputed before the center objected to the sloganeering.
Giridih Police also did not delay in registering a case under several sections of the Indian Penal Code including but not limited to Section 124A (sedition) and Section 153A (disturbing public peace). And arrested the mukhiya candidate and four others.
Saleha Khatoon, who had been Mukhiya for more than two decades said, "We have never been accused of doing any discriminatory work based on religion and people respect us for this. Shakir is innocent."
"My sister-in-law has been the Mukhiya for twelve years now. I studied in school and colleges with girls of other faith, and have never faced such an allegation. These allegations are not allowing us to leave and sleep in peace now," said Sanjida Perween, sister-in-law of Shakir.
Mukhiyas, BJP Leaders File Petition Against Shakir's Arrest
Significantly, a public petition has been prepared to give it to higher administrative authorities; it includes signatures of ten Mukhiyas of which five belong to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The leaders of the BJP criticised the ruling JMM for politics of appeasement, soon after the alleged video went viral.
The petition has also been undersigned by several villagers which comprised all communities including Hindus and tribals. It claimed that Shakir has served them all irrespective of religion.
On Saturday, when BOOM visited the neighbourhood, a large number of people had gathered near Shakir's house to express solidarity with the family. They claimed that the charges framed against Shakir and others are false.
The petition that BOOM has access to demanded that Shakir gets released immediately and a thorough inquiry is done to identify the people who ran the fake video.
When BOOM asked the sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) Anil Kumar Singh about the arrest, pointing out that the villagers are claiming that no slogans of 'Pakistan Zindabad' was raised by Shakir Hussain's supporters, he said, "The matter is under investigation and we can not reveal the details at this stage." BOOM further asked him if the viral video has been sent for any forensic test, but he refused to respond to that either.
The SDPO informed that nine people have been named as accused in the case and five people have been arrested so far.