A day after the Uttar Pradesh Police registered a first information report against the editor and the management of The Week for publishing an allegedly objectionable picture of Hindu deities Shiva and Kali, the magazine on Friday apologised for hurting the sentiments of its readers.

On Thursday, Bibek Debroy, who heads the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, wrote to The Week Editor Philip Mathew saying he was ending his association with the magazine because of the picture chosen for his column about Kali.

“It was published in the 24th July, 2022 issue, under the title ‘A tongue of fire’,” the economist wrote in his letter. “There is an accompanying picture, of a tantra-based painting. There is a very tenuous link between the content of the article and the picture. I can think of many better depictions of Kali. This picture was deliberately chosen to titillate and provoke.”

Artist Shuddhabrata Sengupta on Facebook identified the image as a Kangra miniature painting from the early nineteenth century that is now in the collection of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

On Friday, The Week Editor-in-Charge VS Jayaschandran said that there was “an unfortunate error of judgement” in publishing what he described was an inappropriate illustration of Shiva and Kali.

“We solemnly affirm that there was no mischievous or malevolent intent behind it,” he added. “We are genuinely sorry that it has hurt the sentiments of many of our readers and others. We humbly offer our sincere apologies for publishing the illustration and have since removed it from our website.”

The Kotwali Police in Kanpur filed a case against the magazine on Thursday following a complaint by former Bharatiya Janata Party state Vice President Prakash Sharma, who accused the editors and the management of hurting Hindu sentiments, PTI reported.

“The editor and others responsible for this objectionable act should be dealt with an iron hand,” Sharma told the news agency.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) Pramod Kumar said the FIR was registered under Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code. He added that the investigation officer has been asked to look into the charges and take action.

Workers of Hindutva group Bajrang Dal on Friday also sought action against the magazine by burning its copies in Kanpur’s Bada Chauraha area.

This is the second controversy to have erupted in recent weeks over the depiction of Kali.

Last month, the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh Police had filed separate FIRs against filmmaker Leena Manimekalai after the poster of her new documentary showed a woman dressed as Kali and smoking a cigarette. This image is set against the pride flag of the LGBTQ community.

Amid the backlash, the filmmaker had said on July 6 that she does not feel safe anywhere.

“It feels like the whole nation – that has now deteriorated from the largest democracy to the largest hate machine – wants to censor me,” she had added.