India: Blogger arrested for criticising Islam on social media granted bail after 21 days in jail

Biswas has been accused of?posting?a message on the social media criticising the Islam religion and hurting religious sentiments Photograph:( Getty )

Kolkata, West Bengal, India Oct 06, 2016, 11.26 AM (IST)

A blogger from India’s eastern West Bengal state, Tarak Biswas, who was arrested on September 15 for allegedly criticising Islam on social media, was granted bail today.

 

Biswas has been granted bail after serving 21 days in jail. His bail plea was earlier rejected twice on grounds that his comments had spread communal tension.  

 

The blogger’s release comes after two rights organisations – Association For Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) and Hindu Samhati– took up his case. 

 

While APDR's lawyer, Abhijit Dutta, fought Tarak's case at the Howrah court, Hindu Samhati's  lawyer, Tirthankar Ghosh, fought the case at the Calcutta High Court. 

 

He was granted bail by the Calcutta High Court. However, he is yet to walk out of the jail as the proceedings are pending at two other courts in Bengal - Howrah and Tamluk. Once the copy of the bail order will reach these courts, Tarak will be able to step out of the jail.

 

Earlier, a delegation comprising APDR members had even met the police commissioner of Howrah city police, Devendra Prakash Singh, and submitted a memorandum. 

 

Biswas has been accused of posting a message on the social media criticising the Islam religion and hurting religious sentiments. One Sanaullah Khan had registered a complaint with the cyber police station of the Howrah Police Commissionerate demanding his arrest. According to locals, Khan is leader from the ruling- Trinamool Congress Party (TMC). 

 

“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.

 

Soon after the complaint was registered, he was arrested by the police. However, his arrest had triggered widespread condemnation on social media. 

 

Locals had alleged that the police had picked up Biswas from his residence in the wee hours of September 15. According to the police, Tarak was arrested under section 295 A, 298 of the Indian Penal Code (hurting religious sentiments and hate speech), besides section 66, 67 and 67A of the IT Act (posting, sending offensive messages through communication services).

 

(WION)