The Uttar Pradesh Police on Tuesday arrested a leader of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha and her husband from Tappal in Aligarh district for enacting the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on his 71st death anniversary, ANI reported. Hindu Mahasabha’s Puja Shakun Pandey and her husband Ashok Pandey have been taken into custody.
The police had registered a case against 13 people, including Puja Shakun Pandey, who is seen aiming at the effigy with in a toy gun in a video. The suspects have been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, including committing deliberate and malicious acts to promote enmity between different groups.
Last week, police had arrested five people associated with the Hindu Mahasabha. Puja Shakun Pandey and her husband had been on the run since the event on January 30.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Ashok Pandey had blamed Gandhi for the partition. “We don’t find anything wrong in it because the country celebrates Ravan dahan as well by recreating the scene,” he said. “We have done the act inside our office premises.”
A Hindu Mahasabha leader had also filed a complaint against Puja Shakun Pandey alleging that she was not a member of the organisation. Ashok Pandey, however, refuted the allegation saying they were members of the Hindu Mahasabha faction led by Chandra Prakash Kaushik.
The organisation had recreated Gandhi’s assassination and celebrated the day as “Shaurya Divas”, or Bravery Day. In a video shared on social media, Pandey, dressed in saffron, is seen aiming a toy gun at the effigy of Gandhi. After she “shoots at” the effigy, a red-coloured liquid is seen flowing from it. The effigy was later set ablaze, as the supporters of the group shouted slogans against Gandhi and in praise of his assassin Nathuram Godse.
Hindu Mahasabha workers had also garlanded a statue of Godse, who had shot Gandhi dead in Delhi on January 30, 1948. The Hindutva outfit has held Gandhi responsible for India’s partition. Godse and his co-conspirator Narayan Apte were executed on November 15, 1949.