Six Hindu Mahasabha activists were arrested on Monday for allegedly celebrating the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse at a temple in Surat, Gujarat, PTI reported. Godse was born in Baramati in Pune district, Maharashtra, on May 19 in 1910.
Surat Police Commissioner Satish Sharma said the Hindu Mahasabha activists had organised a celebration at the premises of Suryamukhi Hanuman temple in Limbyayat area of Surat on Sunday. “During the celebration of Godse’s birth anniversary, these Hindu Mahasabha members lit up lamps around Godse’s photo, exchanged sweets and sang bhajans [devotional songs] in the temple premise,” Sharma said. “They even made videos and took photographs of the event.”
Sharma said the act of revering Godse “deeply hurt” people’s sentiments. “It was an attempt to incite people and disturb peaceful atmosphere,” the commissioner added.
A statement issued by the Surat Police identified the six activists as Hiresh Mashru, Vala Bharvad, Viral Malvi, Hitesh Sonara, Yogesh Patel and Manish Kalal, according to News18.
Unidentified officials said the six people have been arrested under Sections 153 (provocation with an intent to cause riot), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups, doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 153B (making assertions prejudicial to national-integration) of the Indian Penal Code.
Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said the Bharatiya Janata Party party stands by Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy. “Our government in the Centre is celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary in a big way to spread Bapu’s message,” he said. “We will not tolerate those who try to distort Bapu’s idea and legacy.”
Godse had become a controversial topic during the election cycle when actor-politician Kamal Haasan termed him “independent India’s first extremist” and BJP candidate Pragya Singh Thakur called him a patriot.