The Chhattisgarh Police on Thursday arrested Hindu religious leader Kalicharan Maharaj after he insulted Mahatma Gandhi and praised his assassin Nathuram Godse at a Hindutva event held in state capital Raipur earlier in the month, PTI reported.
The seer was arrested from Madhya Pradesh from a rented house some 25 km from Khajuraho town, Raipur Superintendent of Police Prashant Agrawal told the news agency.
He was produced before a court in Raipur on Thursday evening, reported ANI.
Three different teams of the Raipur Police were sent to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi to find him, according to ANI.
In a widely shared video on social media, Kalicharan can be seen using an expletive about Gandhi and accusing him of destroying the country at the Raipur event. “I pay my obeisance to Nathuram Godse,” Kalicharan had said at a “dharam sansad” or religious parliament. “He killed him [Gandhi]...See, it is essential to remove a wart by surgery, or else it could lead to cancer.”
Ram Sundar Das, a religious leader at Chhattisgarh’s Dudhadhari temple and former Congress MLA, had walked off the stage after criticising the organisers for failing to object when Kalicharan spoke approvingly of Godse.
“Mahatma Gandhi has been abused on this stage,” Das had said. “You [those attending the event] greeted the statement with applause. But tell me, was he really a traitor? Remember 1947, the circumstances in which India attained independence, Gandhi ji did so much for the country. That’s why he is addressed as the father of the nation. Yet this how he is spoken about?”
A first information report was filed against Kalicharan at Tikrapara police station on Sunday based on the complaint of Congress leader Pramod Dubey. An unidentified official of the Chhattisgarh Police told ANI that he has been charged under Indian Penal Code provisions that deal with sedition, provocation to rioting and hurting religious sentiments.
More than 20 religious leaders attended the two-day “dharam sansad” event over the weekend. Many of them reportedly called upon Hindus to take up weapons and prepare themselves for the establishment of a Hindu nation.
The event in Chhattisgarh followed a similar conclave in Haridwar from December 17-19 at which religious leaders had called for Hindus to buy weapons to kill India’s Muslims.
Meanwhile, the Madhya Pradesh government objected to the manner in which Kalicharan was arrested from the state, ANI reported.
“The Congress government in Chhattisgarh should have not violated the interstate protocol,” Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said. “They should have informed us. If they wanted, they could have issued a notice and called him.”