The Maharashtra Police have filed a case against Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide for his remarks questioning Mahatma Gandhi’s lineage, The Indian Express reported on Sunday
Bhide had made the remarks on July 27 at a function at the Badnera town in the Amravati district. He had claimed that Gandhi was brought up in a Muslim landlord’s home, and that the landlord was his real father. The 90-year-old had claimed that there were documents that backed up his claim.
Amravati Police Commissioner Navinchandra Reddy said that Bhide was booked under provisions of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to promoting enmity between different groups and making statements conducive to public mischief.
“We have the audio recordings of the said event and are analysing the content of the speech,” he said. “The investigation is on, and all action will be taken in accordance with the law.”
On Sunday, the Congress and the faction of the Nationalist Congress Party headed by Sharad Pawar held protests in several parts of Maharashtra demanding Bhide’s arrest. Former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan described his remarks as “ shameless and derogatory”, according to The Indian Express reported.
Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis urged the Opposition not to give the matter a political colour, and said that Bhide had no links with the Bharatiya Janata Party, ANI reported.
“The manner in which the people of Congress are taking to the streets over this, they should similarly do so when Rahul Gandhi speaks against Veer Savarkar,” he said. “But they stay quiet at that time.”
Fadnavis, however, said that an insult to Gandhi would not be tolerated under any circumstances. “I condemn the statement of Sambhaji Bhide,” he said. “Mahatma Gandhi is the father of the nation. He is viewed as the leader of the history of India’s freedom struggle. Such a statement against him is inappropriate, people will not tolerate it.”
In 2018, Bhide had been accused of involvement in violent clashes that broke out 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.