Sedition Charge Against Hindu Religious Leader After Gandhi, Islam Remarks

Kalicharan Maharaj, who praised Mahatma Gandhi's killer Nathuram Godse, has been arrested by Raipur Police

Kalicharan Maharaj made the controversial speech against Mahatma Gandhi in Raipur

Bhopal:

A Hindu religious leader from Maharashtra who insulted Mahatma Gandhi and praised his assassin, Nathuram Godse, has been arrested by the Chhattisgarh Police from Madhya Pradesh's Khajuraho and charged with sedition.

Kalicharan Maharaj, whose controversial speech at a "dharma sansad" or religious meeting in Chhattisgarh's Raipur led to chief patron Mahant Ramsunder Das disowning the event and walking off stage in anger, was also charged with promoting enmity between communities after former mayor Pramod Dubey filed a police case.

Raipur senior police officer Prashant Agarwal has confirmed that Kalicharan has been arrested.

Kalicharan booked a guest house in Khajuraho but did not stay there, police sources said, adding he instead went to a rented house some 25 km from Khajuraho to dodge the police, who had been looking for him since the day a case was filed against him.

To evade the police from tracking, all his close aides had also switched off their phones, sources said. This morning, a team of 10 policemen finally tracked him down, arrested him and took him back to Chhattisgarh's capital Raipur.

He will be taken to a court by evening.

Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra alleged the Chhattisgarh Police violated inter-state protocol by arresting Kalicharan from the state without informing local police, and asked the Madhya Pradesh police chief to take up the matter with his Chhattisgarh counterpart.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel rejected the allegations that the police violated any protocol. "Narottam Mishra should tell whether he is happy or sad about the arrest of the person who insulted Mahatma Gandhi. No rules have been violated and the arrest made by the Chhattisgarh Police was as per procedure," Mr Baghel said.

In his speech - clips of which have been widely circulated on social media, Kalicharan Maharaj declares that the aim of Islam is to capture the nation through politics. He also declared "Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi destroyed the country... salutations to Nathuram Godse, who killed him".

Kalicharan Maharaj demanded people elect a "staunch Hindu leader" to "protect" Hinduism.

After the abusive speech went viral on social media, Congress leader Pramod Dubey, who also attended the religious event, filed a police case. The police have seized the video of Kalicharan making derogatory remarks against Mahatma Gandhi.

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