Disclaimer : The views expressed in ‘answers’ to the questions asked by the interviewer / writer are solely of Kamlesh Tiwari’s wife Kiran Tiwari, and legal counsel Hari Shankar Jain. The interviewer is not responsible for the statements made by both the interviewees. The opinions of writer are only mentioned in the afterword.
Acknowledgements : Would like to thank advocate Prashant Patel (@ippatel) for arranging the contact details of the interviewees.
Q : What really happened Ms. Tiwari? How did it all begin?
KT : On 2nd December 2015, the police came and arrested Tiwari ji for an alleged press release which called the prophet of another religion a homosexual and few other things. Actually, it all began with Azam Khan of Samajwadi party announcing that RSS is an organization of homosexuals because pracharaks do not get married. Tiwari ji was disturbed by this comment. I had no idea that it will become such a serious issue.
Q : But people say homosexuality is a personal choice, should not be considered a crime. So, why was offense taken by both sides? What would you say on this?
KT : Homosexuality may not be a crime, but it definitely doesn’t take civilization ahead. Moreover, making sexual judgements on a socio-cultural organization is belittling their actual work. It was a cheap sarcastic remark by Azam Khan questioning their ‘manhood’ and not merely a genuine observation. Hence, offense taken by Tiwari ji. While he took only offense and left it at that, he got imprisoned when the other side took offense. That’s the difference.
Q : Some people say that kamlesh tiwari never really wrote that press release and he is a victim of conspiracy to instigate communal disharmony and belittle hindus. What do you think?
KT : I have been keeping to myself while tiwari ji has been working for Hindu Mahasabha. I have 3 kids to take care of. I am a simple village girl in essence. I have never asked tiwari ji so many questions. As far as I know, he did not release that so called press release, at most, he wrote it as a personal expression of anger which he left at his desk. No idea how it became public. Can hindus not express their opinions on other religions even in their personal spaces? I dont think its an all out conspiracy but his arrest is a deliberate attempt.
Q : I heard that you have received threats and fatwas have been declared on kamlesh tiwari. Is this true?
KT : Yes, i have received few threat calls on tiwari ji’s phone number. But police has not kept a record of those numbers, they just say not to pick up calls from the same number again. Also, i keep hearing about multiple fatwas declared on tiwari ji’s head – fatwas of a diamond crown, crores of rupees etc. Who is going to track who all are declaring those fatwas? We cant let him stay in jail, but he would need security when he comes out. I dont know how it is possible to live under constant fear.
Q : Tell me about your family. Anything else you would like to tell the readers?
KT : My own parents and parents in law are rural people, not living here (lucknow) with us. We have been living in the office premises of Hindu Mahasabha for some time and i chose to continue living here because there is help around. I didnt go back to village because here i can regularly visit tiwari ji in jail. Thankfully, tiwari ji is not being tortured in the prison. I have to take care of 3 kids and fulfill requirements of legal case. Some people say that tiwari ji is more safe in jail than outside, but it is not possible to continue living like this. This is not justice. The biggest problem is that last 2 hearings that were supposed on happen on pre-decided dates in the court, did not happen. The judge simply asks us to keep waiting for our turn. Everyone is heard but us. Then the day is over and next date is given. This is simply dragging the case. The next hearing is just round the corner, on 23rd May (monday), lets see what happens. I dont know the legal details and our counsel, Jain ji can explain those to you. Thank you for talking to us.
Q : So Mr. Jain, which organization/ individual is the main litigant/ complainant in the case on Kamlesh Tiwari?
HJ : You will be surprised to know that the main complainant is state government itself, and not any muslim organization. The SHO of the area filed an FIR in his official capacity, which was followed next day by another FIR by an individual muslim. The police acted immediately on complaint filed by SHO i.e. the state government and arrested him on 2nd December 2015.
Q : This is surprising. Kamlesh Tiwari has been arrested under which section ? Is it 295A?
HJ : Yes, it is 295 A and also 153 A of the IPC. These are both for hurting the religious sentiments and creating enmity between groups on the basis of religion etc. What is disappointing is, instead of state trying to abolish such regressive laws in the times when freedom of speech is highly valued, it is using these laws to exhibit its power and suppress facts.
Q : So why hasn’t his bail come through? After all, its just a verbal offense.
HJ : The bail hasn’t come through because on 9th Dec, 2015, the District Magistrate slapped detainment as per National Security Act on Kamlesh Tiwari. This is on preventive grounds not punitive, and the accused has to be locked in the jail for 1 year. We had moved a presentation challenging this order, to state government and central government (Ministry of Home Affairs). But both rejected our presentation. Finally, Ms. Kiran Tiwari has filed a writ petition in the Allahabad high court against this decision taken by District Magistrate which is sadly approved by both state government and central government. I have handed over a copy of the writ petition to you.
Q : Could you tell more about the alleged press release by Kamlesh Tiwari for which he got arrested?
HJ : There was no press release that went public. It seems to have been made public by conspiracy. Kamlesh Tiwari simply wrote it as we write our thoughts and left it there. If you see the proof that the SHO/ state govt has submitted of the press release, it is a typed copy! Neither the original, nor a photocopy of the original has been submitted. In the typed copy, there is no signature of Kamlesh Tiwari. Where is the original mail copy, or whats app message or signed letter head copy? Where are the newspaper cuttings? Why was proper proof not asked by magistrate before slapping NSA? Hoping we get proper time to present our side in the next hearing. Kamlesh tiwari has fallen victim to the politics of polarization and vote bank appeasement. The central government hasn’t slapped National Security Act on any of the JNU miscreants, they are all out on bail, but here the state government and judiciary has done it just to please a particular religion.
Q : I have heard you are fighting this case for free. Is this true? Why did you choose this case?
HJ : I have been associated with hindu causes since long. I have been the counsel for Hindu Mahasabha / Kamlesh Tiwari in the ayodhya ram janmbhoomi case where the final verdict divided the premises among all concerned parties. I am also primary litigant in the case for asking Lucknow to be declared as the city of lakshman instead of city of nawabs. Nawabs came much later, there is 2500 year old kali temple in lucknow, a lakshman teela on which they erected the peeli masjid. After 3 years of research, I filed a case for proving that tajmahal is actually tajomahalaya underneath. In the case of kamlesh tiwari, his arrest is based on regressive laws and there seems to be some level of conspiracy, while the state is not arresting the ones issuing fatwas on his head, whoever they are. So, I chose to take up this case free of charge.
Q : Thank you for letting the readers know your side of the story.
KT & HJ : Thank you for taking the time out to present this side of the story. We are hoping that these laws are scrapped as they are regressive in today’s world and are misused by some to suppress truths. Hope RSS too takes a strict stand on Azam Khan’s statements if they have not taken already. We are hoping Allahabad high court will act on our writ petition. If the NSA continues on Kamlesh Tiwari ji, he cannot come out of jail before December 2016.
Afterword : The writ petition is attached Kamlesh tiwari 5369 here, it carries the petition, the district magistrate’s order, the typed copy of alleged press release given as proof by complainant etc. While alternate readings and interpretations of Hindu Gods and Goddesses are a liberal norm, the alternate interpretations of incidents that are mentioned in texts of other religions like hadiths etc are not tolerated even by state governments, forget the extremist groups of those religions. Is it fair to have such regressive laws which curtail the logical expression of speech? As per me, not fair.