Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) detained Islamic preacher Mufti Salman Azhari in Mumbai on Sunday over allegations of delivering an inflammatory speech. The arrest led to a gathering of hundreds of his supporters outside the Ghatkopar police station, prompting a lathi charge by the police to control the crowd and manage traffic disruptions.
Mufti Salman Azhari was held under Sections 153B (promoting enmity between different religious groups) and 505 (2) (statements circulated to incite offence against a community) of the Indian Penal Code. The arrest followed the circulation of a speech made by Mufti in Junagadh, Gujarat, which sparked controversy after being shared online.
Addressing his supporters from inside the police station, Mufti Salman Azhari urged them not to protest. He asserted his innocence, stating, “Neither am I a criminal, nor have I been brought here for committing a crime. They are conducting the necessary investigation, and I am also cooperating with them. I am ready to be arrested if it is my destiny.”
Two other individuals, Mohammad Yousuf Malek and Azim Habib Odedara, local organizers associated with the speech, had already been arrested by Gujarat Police before Mufti’s detention. Subsequently, the Gujarat Police sought assistance from the Maharashtra Police to apprehend the cleric.
According to Mufti’s lawyer, a group of around 35 to 40 police personnel in civilian clothes arrived at Mufti’s residence on Sunday morning. The police reportedly refused to disclose the purpose of their visit until coordinating with Mufti Salman Azhari himself. The lawyer stated, “After coordinating with Maulana Mufti Salman Azhari, they (police) said that a case has been lodged under 153 B, in Gujarat. Maulana Mufti Salman Azhari came to the police station with them and also cooperated.”