Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra was booked by the Madhya Pradesh Police on Wednesday for her comments describing Hindu deity Kaali as a “meat-eating and alcohol-accepting goddess”.
The police have charged Moitra under Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code, The Indian Express reported.
A resident of the city’s Jahangirabad locality had filed a complaint against Moitra, Crime Branch Deputy Commissioner of Police Amit Kumar told the newspaper.
Meanwhile, a complaint against the TMC leader has been filed in the Andal police station of Paschim Bardhaman district of West Bengal. The complaint was filed by Jiten Chatterjee, a state unit leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The MP had stirred up a controversy earlier on Tuesday with her comments about Kaali.
“If you go to Bhutan or Sikkim, for example, when they do puja, they give whiskey to their god,” the Krishnanagar MP said at an India Today conclave. “Now, if you go to Uttar Pradesh and say that you give whiskey to your god as prasad, they will say that is blasphemous.”
She also said that sadhus (Hindu monks) in West Bengal’s Tarapith can be seen smoking.
“That is the version of Kaali people worship [there],” Moitra added. “I, within Hinduism, being a Kaali worshipper, have the right to freedom to imagine Kaali in that way; that is my freedom.”
Hours later, the Trinamool Congress said Moitra made the statement about Kaali in her personal capacity and that the party does not endorse her views.
“All India Trinamool Congress strongly condemns such comments,” it added.
In response to the FIRs against her, Moitra wrote in a tweet: “Bring it on BJP! Am a Kali worshipper. I am not afraid of anything. Not your ignoramuses. Not your goons. Not your police. And most certainly not your trolls. Truth doesn’t need back up forces.”
The Trinamool Congress leader’s comments on the Hindu deity came in the backdrop of complaints and outrage about the poster of filmmaker Leena Manimekalai’s new documentary Kaali showing a woman dressed as the goddess and smoking a cigarette. This image is set against the pride flag of the LGBTQ community.
After the complainants said that the poster has hurt the sentiments of Hindus, the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh Police on Tuesday registered separate first information reports against her.
On Tuesday, Moitra took to Twitter to state that she did not support any poster. “To all you sanghis – lying will NOT make you better Hindus,” she wrote. “Suggest you visit my Maa Kali in Tarapith to see what food and drink is offered as bhog. Joy Ma Tara.”
Trinamool Congress always insults Hindu religion, says BJP
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Suvendu Adhikari told India Today that the Trinamool Congress always “insults the Hindu religion” and that the party would look for legal remedies.
Adhikari also said that the BJP expects Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to take action against Moitra the same way his party acted against Nupur Sharma, who had made disparaging remarks about Prophet Muhammad during a debate on Times Now television channel. On June 5, the BJP suspended Sharma after a diplomatic backlash from many Muslim-majority countries.
Adhikari, who is the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, has given 10 days to the police to file a first information report against Moitra, The Indian Express reported. “If that does not happen, then I will move the court on the 11th day against Moitra,” he added.
On Wednesday, West Bengal BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar also said that if the Trinamool Congress does not endorse Moitra’s comments, then the party should expel or suspend her for a few days, reported ANI.
The BJP’s Information Technology Cell head, Amit Malviya, said that the Trinamool Congress is “full of Hindu hating bigots”. Moitra’s comments, he said, had offended every devotee.
Meanwhile, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor backed Moitra amid the uproar.
“I am no stranger to malicious manufactured controversy, but am still taken aback by the attack on Mahua Moitra for saying what every Hindu knows, that our forms of worship vary widely across the country,” Tharoor wrote on Twitter. “What devotees offer as bhog says more about them than about the goddess.”
Tharoor said that Moitra did not mean to offend anyone with her remarks.
“We have reached a stage where no one can say anything publicly about any aspect of religion without someone claiming to be offended,” he added. “I urge everyone to lighten up and leave religion to individuals to practice privately.”