J&K activist held for ‘Shivling’ tweet from Baramulla district

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The tweet had caused outrage on social media and netizens demanded his immediate arrest. He later deleted the tweet.

Social and human rights activist Waqar H Bhatti of Jammu and Kashmir’s border district of Rajouri was Friday arrested by the police from Baramulla district on charges of hurting religious sentiments of a community with this tweet on ‘Shivling’.

The tweet had caused outrage on social media and netizens demanded his immediate arrest. He later deleted the tweet. Bhatti had sought to clarify his tweet with another tweet saying, “I did not target any religion and why should I target when the matter is in court.”

In a subsequent tweet, he wrote, “I never ever disrespect any religion nor I will in my life because I respect every Religion. The people who are demanding FIR against me are actually doing Politics nothing else.”

This was not the first time that Bhatti was arrested by the police. Earlier, he was arrested by the police in J&K’s Sunderbani area in August 2020 before the one-year celebration of the abrogation of Article 370 which guaranteed special status to the erstwhile J&K state.

In July 2018, he was held by Madhya Pradesh Police for shooting a video outside Gwalior railway station in which he dared RSS leaders to meet him and said he is in town for the next three days.

Friday, a senior police officer confirmed his arrest and said that an FIR has been registered against him following the tweet. A few days back, Delhi University Associate Professor Ratan Lal was arrested for his alleged objectionable social media post on claims of a ‘Shivling’ at the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi. He was granted bail a day later.

A local court in Varanasi had on May 16 directed the district administration to seal a spot in the Gyanvapi Masjid complex after counsels representing the Hindu petitioners claimed that a Shivling was found during a court-mandated videography survey.

However, the claim was disputed by a spokesperson of the mosque management committee, who told a TV channel that the object was a part of a “fountain”.

A day later, the top court directed the district magistrate of Varanasi to ensure the protection of an area inside the Gyanvapi-Shringar Gauri complex, where a ‘Shivling’ was said to have been found, and allowed Muslims to offer ‘namaz’ and perform “religious observances”.