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Hindu Mahasabha leader who recreated Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination arrested

A bust of Nathuram Godse at the central office of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha in New Delhi. File Photo  

The Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) secretary Puja Shakun Pandey and her husband Ashok Pandey, who were accused of recreating the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on his death anniversary in Aligarh last week, were arrested on Wednesday.

ASP Aligarh Neeraj Jadaun said the two were intercepted at Tappal, a cut into the Yamuna Expressway near Aligarh. Both had applied a surrender application in court.

An FIR had been lodged against Ms. Pandey, Ashok Pandey, ABHM spokesperson, and a dozen other members of the right-wing outfit were charged with committing deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings and for promoting enmity between different groups, among other sections of the Indian Penal Code.

With the arrest of the Pandey couple, so far nine out of the 11 persons identified in the video related to the case have been arrested, said Mr. Jadaun.

While being taken to court, Ms. Pandey reiterated her stand, saying she had “no regrets” regarding her act. “It is unfortunate that the equality for the right to express is different for different people on the basis on religion,” she told reporters.

Her husband Ashok Pandey said this was the “second punishment for Gandhi's murder.”

While the incident took place within the private compounds of the ABHM, it came to light through a video shared online by the outfit itself.

In the footage, Ms. Pandey, dressed in a saffron saree, was seen firing shots at an effigy of Gandhiji with an artificial pistol thrice. Fake blood oozed out of the effigy, which some participants termed as “dirty.” The participants then hailed Nathuram Godse, the man who assasinated Mahatma Gandhi. Slogans such as “Mahatma Nathuram Godse amar rahe (Long live Mahatma Nathuram Godse)” were raised. The effigy was then set on fire, while an image of Godse was later garlanded.

Defending the act, Ms. Pandey had later told reporters that the assassination of Gandhi was like a shaurya diwas (a day of valour) for the ABHM and the beginning of a “new tradition” like the burning of the effigy of Ravan every year during Dusshera.

She had also said that Gandhiji had a minor role in the independence movement and criticised him for “the murder of Bharat Mata,” a reference to the partition. The ABHM will work to promote Godse, through the slogan, “Har har Godse, ghar ghar Godse,” said Ms. Pandey.

Past controversies

This is not the first that Ms. Pandey has been in a controversy. Last year, the ABHM set up the first self-styled “Hindu court” in Meerut, appointing her as its first “judge.” The Allahabad High court issued notice in the matter after a PIL was filed.

In December, 2018 she had felicitated the then Aligarh district police chief Ajay Sahani for his campaign on adoption of destitute cows, while in August 2017, Ms. Pandey had run a campaign demanding a ban on slaughtering of animals during the Muslim festival of Bakrid.

Her alleged connection to the ruling BJP was also speculated on social media after pictures of her sharing space with top leaders such as Uma Bharti and Shivraj Singh Chouhan were widely shared.

Munna Sharma, national general secretary of the ABHM, however, told The Hindu last week that he was “not aware” of Ms. Pandey's links with the BJP. “She is working under the banner of the Hindu Mahasabha... Where is the proof? If there will be, then we will see what to do about it,” Mr. Sharma had said.

Mr. Ashok Pandey had contested in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls from Koil on a ABHM ticket, but could manage poll only 442 votes.


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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 2:35:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/hindu-mahasabha-leader-who-recreated-mahatma-gandhis-assassination-arrested/article26192267.ece

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