The Pune police on Wednesday took custody of controversial godman Kalicharan Maharaj from Raipur in connection with an alleged inflammatory speech case registered against him and five others last month.
An official from the city’s Khadak police station, where the case against the godman was lodged, said the Pune police took his custody from their Chhattisgarh counterparts and that he was brought to Pune following a transit remand granted by a Raipur court.
The godman had reportedly made inflammatory speeches designed to hurt the sentiments of the minority community during a “Shivpratap Din” programme held in Pune on December 19.
The event was organised by the “Samasta Hindu Aghadi” — a fringe rightwing group headed by radical Hindutva leader Milind Ekbote — to mark the killing of the Adilshahi General Afzal Khan by the Maratha warrior King Shivaji in 1659 C.E.
As per the FIR later lodged at the Khadak police station on December 28, the godman, along with others including Mr. Ekbote had allegedly delivered inflammatory speeches with an intention to hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims and Christians and to create a communal rift.
A case was registered under the IPC Sections 295 (A) (deliberate and malicious intention of outraging religious feelings of any class), 298 (deliberate intention of wounding religious feeling of any person) and 505 (2) (false statement, rumour made in place of worship with intent to create enmity, hatred or ill-will).
The others booked include Nandakishor Ekbote, Mohanrao Shete, Dipak Nagpure and Captain Digendra Kumar, a Kargil war hero who retired from the Army in 2005 and was a speaker at the event.
This is not the first time that either Kalicharan Maharaj or Mr. Ekbote has courted controversy.
Mr. Ekbote, along with another Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide, was the prime accused in the violent clashes which marred the bicentenary celebrations of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon, on January 1, 2018 which had left one person dead besides aggravating social tensions across Maharashtra.
He was booked by the Pune police in two separate FIRs for inciting violence and rioting under the IPC and Sections of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. and was arrested in March, 2018.
However, he was granted bail by the Pune District and Sessions Court in April that year.
Kalicharan Maharaj, too, has been booked in a case in Chhattisgarh for his alleged derogatory remarks against Mahatma Gandhi during an event in Raipur. He had been arrested from Madhya Pradesh by the Chhattisgarh police last week in connection with that case.