Hindu Religious Leader Kalicharan Maharaj Arrested for Insulting Gandhi
Hindu leader Kalicharan Maharaj. (Twitter photo via IANS)
By ASHOK SHARMA
NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian police on Dec. 30 arrested a Hindu religious leader for allegedly making a derogatory speech against India’s independence leader Mohandas Gandhi and praising his assassin.
Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead by a Hindu extremist during a prayer meeting in the Indian capital in 1948, because he was considered sympathetic toward Muslims during the partition of the Indian subcontinent.
Kalicharan Maharaj was arrested in central Madhya Pradesh state Dec. 30 for allegedly promoting hatred between religious groups in a speech earlier this week, the Press Trust of India news agency cited police officer Prashant Agrawal as saying.
According to media reports, Maharaj said “Gandhi destroyed the country … salutations to Nathuram Godse, who killed him.”
He will be formally charged in court after the police complete an investigation. If convicted, he can be jailed up to five years.
The opposition is also demanding the arrest of several saffron-robed Hindu religious leaders for making highly provocative speeches against Muslims at a closed-door religious parliament, known as Dharam Sansad, earlier this month in the northern holy city of Haridwar.
Police in Uttarakhand state, which is ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, said they were questioning suspects. No arrests have been made.
IANS adds from Jaipur/Bhopal: Hindu religious leader Kalicharan Maharaj was arrested from Madhya Pradesh’s Khajuraho Dec. 30 for allegedly making remarks against Mahatma Gandhi.
Kalicharan made controversial speech at a ‘dharam sansad’ or religious gathering held in Raipur on Dec. 26.
Kalicharan’s derogatory remarks against Mahatma Gandhi prompted chief patron Mahant Ramsundar Das to disown the event and walk out.
Later, Congress leader Pramod Dubey filed a police complaint against Kalicharan, accusing him of promoting enmity between communities.
As per police, Kalicharan booked a guest house in Khajuraho but did not stay there, instead went to a rented house, some 25 km from Khajuraho. To evade arrest, all his close aides had also switched off their mobile phones, sources said.
On Dec. 30 morning, a team of 10 policemen tracked him down, arrested him and took him back to Chhattisgarh’s capital Raipur.
“Kalicharan has been arrested from Madhya Pradesh’s Khajuraho area and taken to Raipur,” said a senior police official from Chhattisgarh on condition of anonymity.
The police official also said that Kalicharan will be produced before a court by Thursday evening.
In a video clip that was widely circulated on social media, Kalicharan declared that “the aim of Islam is to capture the nation through politics.”
“Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi destroyed the country. Salutations to Nathuram Godse, who killed him,” he added.
During his speech, Kalicharan was also heard urging people to elect a staunch Hindu leader to protect Hinduism.