The Tamil Nadu police Tuesday filed an FIR against actor-politician Kamal Haasan for his controversial “free India’s first extremist was a Hindu” remarks referring to Nathuram Godse, as saffron organisations moved the courts in Delhi against the actor-politician.
Makkal Needhi Maiyam and a Minister who wanted the actor’s tongue to be chopped off for his remarks entered into a war of words, even as the MNM chief found support from Asaduddin Owaisi, the firebrand AIMIM leader.
“The one who killed Mahatma Gandhi, whom we regard as Father of the Nation, what do we call him? We call him Mahatma or ‘rakshas’ (demon)? Call him terrorist or assassin?” he said.
“If not calling the person who killed Bapu as a terrorist, what else will you call him?” he told reporters at Hyderabad.
Stoking a controversy, Haasan had said on Sunday that “free India’s first extremist was a Hindu”, referring to Nathuram Godse who killed Mahatma Gandhi.
“I am not saying this because this is Muslim-dominated area, but I am saying this before a statue of Gandhi. Free India’s first extremist was a Hindu, his name is Nathuram Godse. There it (extremism, apparently) starts,” he said in bypoll-bound Aravakurichi.
BJP and AIADMK condemned him for his remarks, though Congress and rationalist outfit Dravidar Kazhagam backed him.
Police in Aravakurichi in Karur district filed the FIR under sections 153A and 295A of the Indian Penal Code, which deal with ‘outraging religious feelings’ and ‘promoting enmity between different groups’, respectively.
A Karur police release also warned of stringent action against those inciting violence in the name of religion, caste, language and race.
In Delhi, two separate cases were filed against Haasan.
Moving a PIL before the bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice A J Bhambhani of the Delhi High Court, BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay sought directions to the EC to “restrict” misuse of religion for poll gains.
Upadhyay, also a lawyer, alleged Haasan “deliberately” made the statement in the presence of a Muslim majority crowd for electoral gains.
The petition contended this was “clearly a corrupt practice under Representation of the People Act (RPA) 1951.”
“As per Model Code of Conduct, no party or candidate can indulge in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic. Similarly, there shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes.
“Haasan has violated the Model Code of Conduct in addition to Section 123(3) of the RPA 1951. Kamal Haasan is deliberately promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony and brotherhood, which is an offence under section 153A of IPC.
It is a deliberate and malicious act, intended to outrage religious feelings of millions of Hindus, which is an offence under section 295A IPC,” it claimed.
It also said that despite the alleged misuse of religion for electoral gain by Haasan, the EC has not done anything in this regard yet.
The bench allowed the plea to be listed for hearing on Wednesday before an appropriate bench.
A Hindu Sena activist also moved the court, seeking Haasan’s prosecution for allegedly hurting religious sentiments by terming Godse as a “Hindu extremist.”
The matter is likely to be listed before a Metropolitan Magistrate on May 16.
Complainant Vishnu Gupta, who claimed to be the outfit’s president, sought Haasan’s prosecution for alleged offences punishable under IPC 153-A and 295-A. The offences are punishable with a three-year jail term or fine, or both.
He alleged Haasan “deliberately and maliciously” made “absolutely derogatory comments to outrage religious feelings of Hindus by associating terrorism with the Hindu religion”.
“The comment was made with the sole intention “to promote enmity between Hindus and Muslims, and outrage religious feelings and religious beliefs of Hindus, along with that of the complainant”, he claimed.
Meanwhile, MNM demanded that Tamil Nadu Milk and Dairy Development Minister K T Rajendira Bhalaji be removed, following his outburst that its party chief’s tongue should be chopped off for his controversial remarks.
In a statement, MNM general secretary A Arunachalam said that as an elected representative and a minister, Bhalaji had broken “the promise he made when he took oath as minister.”
“So he must be removed from his post immediately.” However, Bhalaji hit out at the demand and sought to know what violation of oath he had committed and if he was “speaking ill of a particular faith or promoting another.”
Haasan was not the President, Governor or Chief Minister to seek his removal as a minister, he added.
On Monday, he had said Haasan’s tongue should be cut off for saying independent India’s “first extremist was a Hindu”.
“His tongue should be cut off…he has said (free India’s first extremist) was a Hindu. Extremism has no religion, neither Hindu nor Muslim nor Christian,” he said.
Bhalaji said Tuesday he did not intend to hurt anybody with his remarks, but that it was reflective of the public mood against the actor-politician.
“If he (Haasan) issues a statement that he had made the remarks inadvertently and that Hindus need not feel hurt due to it, I will also immediately withdraw my statement,” he told reporters at Tuticorin.
TNCC president K S Alagiri slammed Bhalaji for saying Haasan’s tongue should be cut off, saying it amounted to “violence”.