The hounding of Shirin Dalvi: 'These people are doing all this to damage my career'

Mumbai: She's been accused of intentionally offending the Muslim community by publishing the Charlie Hebdo cover featuring Prophet Muhammad and is now accused of trying to ferment riots, but former editor of Urdu daily Awadhnama, Shririn Dalvi, on Friday said that the allegations against her are motivated by 'personal jealousy'.

“Despite publishing an apology in the front page of the newspaper and other media, and seeking forgiveness, these people are saying ‘maafi nahi milegi’, which had made me insecure. What do they mean by this? Are they planning to take law into their hands? It is Prophet Muhammad who has preached forgiveness but these people are not forgiving me," she told Firstpost..."These people, out of personal jealousy and due to a grouse against me, are spreading false information to pollute the minds of the community. Also, these people are doing all this to damage my career, but nobody can stop me from writing,” she said over the telephone from an undisclosed location.

Dalvi was responding to two groups, the Mumbai Awadhnama Patrakar Sangharsh Samiti and Forum against Blasphemy, who have alleged that she published the controversial cartoon in order to ensure that the newspaper shut down and to spark riots. “We feel it was a planned conspiracy to shut down the newspaper and to create riots as she knew the content of the controversial cartoon and it can be seen from the content of the article. She did it in connivance with management to avoid all legal financial and monetary obligations,” editor of another Urdu daily Sahafat, Saeed Hamid, said during a press conference.

However, Dalvi refuted the claims saying that the daily had been doing good business. "I have no intention of shutting down the newspaper. It was doing good business. On 4 January, we had a special edition on Prophet Mohammed and it had 22 pages of advertisements, which means the newspaper was doing the good business. After the 17 January issue, the situation was such that we were forced to shut the newspaper,” Dalvi said.

The former editor of Awadhnama has had multiple cases filed against her and she has been accused of outraging religious sentiments by publishing French magazine Charlie Hebdo’s cover picture featuring a caricature of Prophet Mohammed on the front page of the newspaper on 17 January. Over four FIRs have been filed against Dalvi and she was taken into custody by the police in Mumbra area of Thane but subsequently released on bail by a magistrate. The Mumbai edition of Awadhnama has closed down following the outrage over the publishing of the cartoon and approximately 15 employees of the newspaper have reportedly lost their jobs.

The two groups who accused Dalvi of attempting to start riots also claimed that the employees of the newspaper hadn't been paid in months and accused the newspaper management of having decided to shut shop after making money during the Lok Sabha and state assembly elections in 2014. They also questioned the Dalvi’s credentials, claiming that she was not a journalist but hailed from an advertising background. “It is completely untrue. I started an advertising agency only six months ago but these people are spreading lies to harass me and the management,” Dalvi said.

And while the two groups that issued statements against her said that they would allow the law to take its own course, the former editor had earlier said that she had been living separate from her children in order to ensure their safety. Despite not wearing a veil earlier, she had also started wearing a burqa to avoid being targeted and has also changed her telephone numbers to avoid being traced easily.

There may be good reason for her choosing to stay off the radar. The Mumbai police on Thursday arrested two newspaper vendors for allegedly distributing the Avadhnama newspaper. The police said that the vendors were selling the controversial edition of the newspaper despite knowing of its controversial content. “The complainant has emphatically insisted that knowing fully well that front page matter is defamatory to Islam, the vendors still kept selling the said newspaper. The complainant has also claimed that they had asked several vendors not to sale the newspaper. While others stopped selling it, these two did not do so,” a police officer said.

See also:
"As (Allama) Iqbal placed the body of Ilm Din into the grave, he tearfully declared: "This uneducated young man has surpassed us, the educated ones." Courtesy the Brown Pundits blog:
Mahmoud Mohammed Taha was a Sudanese religious thinker and leader executed for apostasy at the age of 76 by the regime of Gaafar Nimeiry. (See his Court statement)

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