Dalit outfit Bhim Army’s Vice President Manjeet Singh Nautiyal has been charged with sedition in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur district for making an “inflammatory speech” on social media, IANS reported on Thursday.
In the speech, Nautiyal reportedly threatened people who are allegedly creating impediments in rebuilding the Ravidas temple in Delhi that was razed last week. Ravidas was a 15th-century religious preacher and a Dalit icon. His teaching are mentioned in the Guru Granth Sahib, and his followers form an offshoot of Sikhism.
Sub-inspector Sohanpal Singh of Behta police station took suo motu cognisance of the speech and lodged a case against the Bhim Army leader for allegedly provoking violence, spreading rumours, hatred and hurting religious sentiments. The police registered the case after examining the video and seeking opinions of legal experts, Hindustan Times reported. Station House Officer Pawan Chaudhary confirmed the news.
On Sunday, Nautiyal had addressed his supporters for more than 20 minutes through a Facebook live broadcast that was widely shared on social media. He reportedly provided an August 21 deadline for the temple’s reconstruction, and asked Bhim Army supporters to gather in Delhi with arms on the day of the deadline to fight for their honour. He also allegedly pointed out that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by one of her bodyguards for insulting the Sikh community.
On Tuesday, protests broke out in several parts of Punjab’s Doaba region after the 500-year-old temple in Delhi’s Tughlakabad area was razed on August 10. The 15th-century temple was pulled down following a Supreme Court order that was passed on the basis of a petition against land encroachment by the temple authorities. Demonstrations were held in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Phagwara, Gurdaspur and Amritsar, and educational institutions in four districts – Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar – were closed.