The Delhi Police on Sunday registered a first information report against the head priest of a temple in Ghaziabad for allegedly hurting religious sentiments by making derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammed and Islam at the Press Club of India, The Print reported.
Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati of the Dasna Devi temple was booked under Indian Penal Code Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, residence, language etc) and 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs).
The religious leader was speaking at a press conference organised by Hindutva outfit Akhil Bharatiya Sant Parishad (Ghaziabad) at the Press Club of India in Delhi on Thursday. Saraswati was the chief guest of the event, according to The Print.
A Delhi Police spokesperson told the website that the action was based on a widely circulated video of the priest making disparaging remarks.
“If Muslims come to know about Mohammed’s reality, each and every one of them will be ashamed to call themselves Muslims,” Saraswati, dressed in saffron robes, can be seen telling an audience. He made several other derogatory remarks about the founder of Islam. One of the panelists can be seen nodding in agreement with Saraswati’s views in the video.
The priest goes on to say that it was because of the poor leadership of previous leaders that something as “filthy as Islam” was allowed to be practiced alongside Hinduism in the country.
“Taking cognisance of a video circulating on social media in the matter of a conference took place in the press club, a case FIR No. 57/21 u/s 153-A/ 295-A-IPC has been registered at PS Parliament Street and investigation taken up,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Chinmoy Biswal told The Print.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi said that any kind of insult of the Prophet was unacceptable. “Can these criminals acting as religious teachers get over their unnatural fixation with Islam?” he wrote on Twitter. “For something that you do not like, you do spend a lot of time on it. I’m sure there’s enough in your own belief system that you can discuss.”
On Saturday, Aam Aadmi Party MLA and chairperson of the Delhi Waqf Board, Amanatullah Khan, also filed a complaint against the priest at the Jamia Nagar police station.
The complaint said, “Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati who happens to be the chief priest of Devi mandir, Dasna, leader of hindutva organisation, Hindu Swabhiman and president of Akhil Bhartiya Sant Parishad with all his knowledge and intention, has hurt the religious sentiments of the Muslim community, not only in India but all over the world who love and idolise Prophet Mohammed.”
Known for controversy
This is not the first time that Saraswati has displayed rabble-rousing tendencies. Last month, the priest had led a movement to remove a Saibaba idol inside a temple in Delhi, claiming the spiritual leader revered by Hindus was a Muslim.
A series of videos showing the demolition of an idol of Sai Baba surfaced on social media last week. In the videos recorded inside a temple, a middle-aged man dressed in a pale-blue shirt could be seen overseeing the demolition.
In another video, the same man, in a white shirt and saffron stole, is seen seated next to Saraswati, who congratulates and blesses him for “breaking and throwing away” the idol of “pakhandi Sai” – fraudster Sai. “If I had my way, jihadis like Sai won’t be able to enter temples,” he says.
Scroll.in traced the idol demolition to a temple in Shahpur Jat in South Delhi. While a member of the temple committee claimed the idol had been removed on March 25 because it was “khandit” or broken, many residents of the neighbourhood, who are devotees of Sai Baba, rejected this explanation and expressed shock and grief at the demolition.
In March, a 14-year-old Muslim boy was assaulted by two men for drinking water at Saraswati’s temple in Ghaziabad.