Payal Rohatgi | Twitter
Payal Rohatgi | Twitter

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New Delhi: A Mumbai court Tuesday ordered a police inquiry against Bollywood actor Payal Rohatgi for her derogatory tweets on student-activist Safoora Zargar, when the latter was under detention last year.

A Metropolitan Magistrate Court in Mumbai’s Andheri suburb noted that the actor’s tweets prima facie suggested a disregard for Muslim women and community.

“No individual has the right to make fun of any custom or rites of other community. Prima Facie above tweets show disregard against Muslim women and Community,” the order read.

A series of tweets were posted by Rohatgi in June 2020, which were abusive and derogatory towards Muslim women. The tweets particularly targeted Zargar, a 30-year-old pregnant student-activist who was in custody at the time for her alleged connection to the Delhi riots. She had been booked under the stringent Unlawful Prevention Activities Act and spent over two months in jail before being released on 23 June.

In one such tweet, Rohatgi had said there was no concept of condoms among Muslims and the women “produce kids like a dozen”. In other tweets, she talked about female genital mutilation and also commented on the Quran.

The magistrate, in the order, noted that a technical investigation was important in the matter.

“Technical investigation about tweets is necessary to proceed against accused. Such investigation can be conducted through police only,” said the court.

Also read: Bollywood backbenchers finally taking revenge on A-listers, with some Right-wing help

Court case filed in December against Rohatgi

Based on Rohatgi’s tweets, advocate Ali Kaashif Khan Deshmukh first approached the police to file an FIR against the actor at the Amboli police station in Maharashtra. However, when the police failed to take cognisance, Deshmukh approached the Mumbai court in December.

The advocate pleaded that the actor be booked under sections 153(A) (Promoting enmity between different groups), 153(B) (Assertions prejudicial to national integration), 295(A) (Deliberate acts to hurt religious feelings), 298 (Deliberate intent to wound religious feelings) and 505 (Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes) of the Indian Penal Code and sections 67 and 67A (punishment for publishing obscene material) of the Information Technology Act.

This is not the first time Rohatgi has courted controversy because of her remarks.

In 2019, she was detained by the police in Rajasthan and sent to nine-day judicial custody for posting “objectionable” content against the Nehru-Gandhi family on social media.

Her Twitter account was suspended on 8 July 2020, for allegedly violating the rules of the platform.

(Edited by Rachel John)

Also read: Kapil Mishra to Payal Rohatgi, India’s new ‘intellectuals’ are dethroning one Guha at a time


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