A man who dressed as Hindu deity Shiva in a street play in Assam’s Nagaon district has been arrested for allegedly hurting religious sentiments, ANI reported on Sunday.
On Saturday, Birinchi Bora performed in a play scripted to protest against the price rise under the Narendra Modi-led central government. While Bora played the role of the Shiva, his co-actor Parishimita dressed up as Parvati, the wife of the Hindu deity, NDTV reported.
Videos of their performance were widely shared on social media. The actors were seen riding a two-wheeler, which abruptly stops after it runs out of fuel.
An argument ensues between the couple, Shiva and Parvati, over the situation. Shiva then starts criticising the Centre over rising fuel prices, unemployment and other real problems faced in the country, according to NDTV.
Borah also reportedly appealed to the audience to hold protests against price rise.
Members of Hindutva groups, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal, have taken objection to the street play and filed a complaint. They accused the actors of misusing religion for political purposes.
“If you want to protest, sit and do it,” said Raja Pareek, a Bharatiya Janata Party member. “We don’t support their act of dressing up as deities.”
Bora was taken to the Nagaon Sadar police station on Sunday, NDTV reported.
“Two others suspected to be involved are yet to be nabbed,” said Nagaon Sadar police station in-charge Manoj Rajvanshi, ANI reported.
The actors have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and provisions under the Motor Vehicles Act, said Superintendent of Nagaon Police Leena Doley, the Hindustan Times reported.
“But since all the sections under which he [Bora] was charged are bailable, he was released on Sunday,” Doley added. “We are searching for the actress who had accompanied Bora.”
Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma wrote in a tweet on Sunday afternoon that street plays on “current issues” are not blasphemous. “Dressing up is not a crime unless offensive material is said,” he tweeted. “Appropriate order has been issued to Nagaon Police.”
In April, retail inflation in India had shot up to 7.79% – the highest in eight years. A month before in March, it was at a 17-month high of 6.95%. The price rise indicator eased to 7.04% in May on account of softening prices of food.
Fuel prices have been one of the major factors in the rise in India’s inflation levels. In May, the Union government had reduced excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 8 per litre and Rs 6 per litre respectively in a bid to control inflation.
On Saturday, the Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das said that inflation in India could improve in the second half of this financial year.