The Maharashtra Police have filed a case against Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide for allegedly making derogatory comments about Gautam Buddha and social reformers Jyotiba Phule and Periyar, The Indian Express reported.
This is the third case filed against Bhide within a week. Earlier, he was booked for his remarks about Mohandas Gandhi and spiritual leader Sai Baba.
According to the police, Bhide was booked on a complaint filed by Panvel-based advocate Amit Katarnavre, who said that he had seen some videos on YouTube in which Bhide made the remarks.
Katarnavre said that Bhide allegedly told people to kill Muslims to prevent incidents of “love jihad”, reported The Indian Express. Love jihad is a conspiracy theory which maintains that Muslim men have waged a campaign to court Hindu women merely so that they can convert them to Islam.
“As a citizen and firm believer in the Constitution, I was extremely disturbed about the kind of language used against women, Muslims and most importantly against leaders like Mahatma Phule,” Katarnaware said, according to the Hindustan Times.
He added: “The content of the recording is extremely vulgar and is intended only to spew religion-based and caste-based hatred and create unrest in society.”
Bhide has been booked under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code and other provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
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.