The volunteers of ‘Mujahid Wisdom Global Islamic Mission’, who were distributing the material in villages near Kochi, were arrested on complaints by local RSS activists.
They have been booked under the non-bailable section 153A of the Indian Penal Code and were produced before a Magistrate on Monday.
Section 153A prohibits anyone from trying to promote “disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.”
On Sunday, the volunteers split up into groups and were distributing the pamphlets that urged people to stop believing in false religions and accept Allah as their God.
One of the pamphlets said that those who worship false Gods will be condemned to hell and these Gods will not come to their aid as they suffer after their death.
The organization disputed the argument that its teachings create tension among communities.
“We are saying that worshiping multiple Gods is wrong.. how can this lead to communal tension,” asked the Mission on its Facebook page.
“Are you saying that Islamic believers should stop believing that the worship of multiple Gods is wrong?.. Every Indian has the right to criticize religious beliefs,” it said, adding that such tactics will not dissuade its volunteers from spreading their religion.
The move has also been criticized by PK Feroze, a prominent youth leader of the Indian Union Muslim League, a key partner in the Congress Party-led United Democratic Front.
“The police are saying that distributing pamphlets that attack the worship of multiple Gods is likely to create tension between communities. If that is so, then when are you going to arrest Communists, who say that religion is the opium of the masses? When are you arresting non-believers who say there is no God?” he asked.
Unlike Islamic countries, India does not have a blasphemy law, and questioning religious beliefs is not an offence in the country.
Instead, India puts limits of freedom of expression by using the criteria of ‘maintenance of law and order’.
In other words, if any person or group of persons try to create a law and order situation by questioning people’s beliefs, they can be imprisoned for up to five years.
The law is frequently used by religious groups to ban movies, books and so on, by arguing that not banning it will create anger among the believers, which will in turn result in law and order problems, and therefore, the movie or book deserves to be banned.
However, the law is rarely applied to religious groups themselves, even though religious groups often claim that people of other religions and atheists will go to hell after death.