Father George Ponnaiah, a Catholic priest from Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, has been accused of hate speech against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Ministers of DMK. Pastor Panavilai spoke at a meeting held in Arumanai on Sunday evening.
The assembly was held to sentence closure of church buildings, ban on undertaking prayer conferences and denial of allow to construct church buildings even on patta land and additionally to pay tributes to activist father Stan Swamy. Christian and Muslim leaders and representatives of various organizations participated on the assembly. Videos of his speech have been circulated in social media.
In the videos of the assembly, the priest is heard mentioning, “Ministers P K Sekar Babu (Hindu religious and charitable endowments) and T Mano Thangaraj (information technology and Padmanabhapuram MLA) should not forget that they did not get any Hindu votes. They should not forget that their victory was the alms given by Christians and Muslims by casting their votes,” he stated.
The priest also blamed Nagercoil MLA M. R. Gandhi (BJP) as the main cause of the religious unrest in Mandaikadu in 1982, which killed seven people. He attacked the union's prime minister and interior minister, saying that even BJP and RSS supporters are ashamed to name their children after the two leaders.
BJP officials and representatives of various Hindu costumes have filed complaints with police in several areas, demanding his arrest.
On Wednesday, the priest was booked under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language). 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 505(ii) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes) and 506(i) (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). He was also acused under section 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly) of the IPC and Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act for conducting the assembly against the Covid-19 norms.
On Friday, the priest launched a video alleging that his "speech was edited and circulated in the social media. My words were twisted as if I hurt and degraded the sentiments of Hindu brothers and sisters."He added that neither he nor anyone else on stage spoke in a manner that would offend other religious feelings."In case our speech had been that way, I wholeheartedly apologise on behalf of the meeting," he stated.
He concluded that the video says such a word will be outdated in the future. BJP clothes and Indians demanded his arrest. The BJP will demand arrest and detention under the National Security Act on July 28.
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