National Secretary of Hindu Mahasabha Pooja Pandey, caught in a controversy for recreating the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, was arrested by Aligarh Police on Wednesday evening along with her husband Ashok Pandey.
Pandey was seen shooting thrice at an effigy of Mahatma Gandhi with an air pistol before burning it at the Hindu Mahasabha office in Gandhi Park, according to a purported video. The ABHM members also allegedly garlanded Nathuram Godse.
An FIR was lodged against nine people, including Pooja and her husband and ABHM national spokesperson Ashok. They have been booked under IPC sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 147 (rioting), police said. Special Powers Act has also been invoked against the accused for burning the effigy.
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Ashok Pandey confirmed recreating the assassination and said, “We don’t find anything wrong in it because the country celebrates Ravan dahan as well by recreating the scene. We have done the act inside our office premises.” “He (Gandhi) was also responsible for Partition… Over 10 lakh Hindus died,” he added.
A member of ABHM, Rajeev Kumar, whose president is Swami Chakrapani, later filed a complaint against Pooja alleging that she was not a part of the organisation and that she misused the banner.
Ashok Pandey dismissed the allegations, stating that they were the members of ABHM, whose national president is Chandra Prakash Kaushik. “We have nothing to do with the ABHM run by Swami Chakrapani. Police had wrongly lodged an FIR against Pooja on Rajeev Kumar’s complaint,” he told The Sunday Express.
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Opposition Party Congress later said the incident “reflects that BJP governments at the Centre and in the state have been quietly supporting the act.” They also staged protests across the country on Monday.