The Maharashtra State Women’s Commission on Wednesday served a notice to Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide demanding an explanation over his comment to a woman journalist, reported The Indian Express.

On Wednesday, Bhide refused to speak to a journalist from Marathi news channel Saam TV, Rupali BB, as she was was not wearing a bindi on her forehead. “Every woman is like Bharat Mata and Bharat Mata is not widow,” Sambhaji Bhide was seen telling the journalist in a video clip from the channel.

The incident took place on Wednesday, after Bhide met Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde at the state secretariat in Mumbai.

Maharashtra State Women’s Commission president Rupali Chakankar asked Bhide to explain why he refused to speak to the journalist because she was not wearing a bindi.

“You refused to talk to a woman journalist because she had no bindi on her forehead,” Chakankar said in the notice, reported The Indian Express. “A woman is known by the quality of her work. Your statement is demeaning to a woman’s pride and her social stature.”

The Saam TV journalist tweeted on Wednesday that wearing a bindi was her personal choice. “One tends to respect a person on account of age,” she said. “But that person should also be worthy of it. It is my right to decide on whether to apply a bindi, and when to apply it. “We live in a democratic country.”

Bhide was booked in 2018 after violent clashes broke out on between Dalit and Maratha groups at Bhima Koregaon village near Pune. However, he was not named in the chargesheet in the case.

Instead, the focus of the National Investigation Agency’s case has been on allegations that 16 activists were part of a larger Maoist conspiracy to stoke caste violence, destabilise the Central government and assassinate the prime minister.