In a dramatic series of events that may remind one of the famous Bollywood movies 'Peepli Live', a Ranchi court modified its bail order by removing the condition of asking an accused to distribute copies of Holy Quran here on Wednesday. The order had become a talking point across the nation, triggering protests by several rightwing organisations and a boycott of the court by the Ranchi District Bar Association on Wednesday.
The Court of Judicial Magistrate Manish Kumar Singh on Wednesday modified its order after the Investigating Officer of the case pleaded to do away with the condition of distributing Quran citing difficulties in its implementation.
Richa Bharti (19), a B.Com (Hons) student in Ranchi, was arrested from her residence in Pithoria near the Capital City on July 12 after the local Anjuman Committee lodged an FIR with the Pithoria Police Station, accusing her of posting objectionable content on social media.
The Anjuman Committee alleged that Richa’s posts hurt the religious sentiments of a particular community. Richa had to spend two nights at the Birsa Munda Jail in Ranchi and was granted the conditional bail on July 15.
While Wednesday’s order brought relief to Richa and her family, she told The Pioneer that she would have knocked the door of High Court if the order was not modified. “I was ready to move to the High Court. Even though I respect religious sentiments of people, I cannot be forced to propagate any religion that is not mine,” she said.
Her double storey house on a narrow lane off Ranchi-Patratu Highway was flooded with Bajrang Dal activists, religious advocates, politicians and the media on Wednesday.
While the matter hogged attention and the teenager became a known face overnight, she said that the matter was inherently trivial and blown out of proportion by some members of a particular community. “I often had debates and arguments on social media with some of my batch mates in tuition. Maybe one of them took it too far,” she said. “I want strict actions against the people who have harassed me on social media and the ones for whom I had to spend days and nights in jail,” she added.
Interestingly, Richa did not write any post of her own on social media. She was accused of spreading communal disharmony for sharing the posts of a Facebook community called ‘Narendra Modi Fans Club’. However, she is now faced against trolls, some of who have even gone to the extent of issuing her rape threats.
Police on Wednesday lodged a complaint against one Abazi Azmi Wasim Khan with the Pithoria Police Station in Ranchi on charges of issuing rape threats to Richa on social networking website, Facebook. Police said that they have launched a manhunt to nab the accused. “I had to face harassment on social media since the case came to light. Some of the messages are so crass and disturbing that I am uncomfortable even talking about them,” said Richa.
The court had on July 15 asked Richa to distribute at least five copies of Quran, one at the Anjuman Committee, and four in different libraries within 15 days as punishment for her posts on social media.
Her father, Prakash Patel, a local contractor, on Wednesday said that Richa was innocent as all of her posts were only ‘re-shares’ and none of them targeted any particular religious group. “If my daughter shares something against Pakistanis or Rohingya Muslims, it does not mean that she is making communal remarks,” said Patel.
Meanwhile, State BJP Spokesperson Pratul Shahdeo welcomed the change in decision by the court. He said that the court has removed the condition of distribution of Quran in its decision and this will end the situation of illusion in the society.
He said that Ranchi Police has also taken a positive step in the matter and after the changed order the confidence of people in the judiciary has been strengthened.