Gujarat court grants bail to Mufti Salman Azhari in ‘hate speech’ case

In Bhuj, Gujarat, a court in Kutch district granted bail to Mufti Salman Azhari, a Mumbai-based Islamic preacher, in a second “hate speech” case related to a religious event in Samakhiali. The Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) at Bhachau approved Azhari’s bail, and he was subsequently taken to Rajkot central jail. Arvalli police will assume custody for a third “hate speech” case filed at Modasa police station. Azhari had previously received bail on February 7 for a similar case in Junagadh.

Initially held in police custody until Sunday by the Bhachau court, Azhari’s lawyer filed a bail application during his court appearance. The court granted bail after considering both sides. Azhari had been arrested on February 5 in Mumbai for the first FIR, involving an alleged hate speech in Junagadh on January 31.

Following his bail in Bhachau, Kutch police arrested Azhari for an inflammatory speech during a religious event in Samakhiari on January 31, leading to his bail in the second case on February 8. On Friday, Azhari faced a third case for an allegedly inciting speech in Modasa on December 24, with charges including promoting enmity between religious groups and making statements conducive to public mischief.

In Junagadh and Kutch, Azhari faced charges under Indian Penal Code sections 153B and 505(2). In Modasa, additional charges under section 298 were applied for uttering words with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings. The police also invoked relevant sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, as derogatory remarks against the SC community were made in his speech.

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