The Punjab police has registered an FIR against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader, Ashish Khetan on Tuesday for hurting religious sentiments of Sikhs in the state. Khaitan, while campaigning for the upcoming assembly elections in Punjab, had reportedly compared Guru Granth Sahib with AAP manifesto, upsetting the religious sentiments of Sikhs.
An FIR was registered under Section 295-A for hurting religious sentiments at the Civil Lines police station in Amritsar. The case was registered on the complaint filed by Karnail Singh Peer Mohammad, President of All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) late on Tuesday nigh, Commissioner of Police (Amritsar) Amar Singh Chahal said on Wednesday.
Police said they were investigating the matter.
The party courted controversy by publishing an image of Golden Temple, the holy Sikh shrine in Amritsar, on the cover page of it's youth wing's manifesto, according to a Hindi news website Jansatta. Apparently, the election symbol of AAP, a broom, was also embossed atop the image which created controversy.
Earlier, Khetan had said the manifesto was "the Bible, Gita and Guru Granth Sahib" for him.
The arrest came even after Khetan had issued an apology in the matter, stating his invention was not to hurt anyone's sentiment. "undermine any section of the society. Khetan also promised to change the controversial cover page, according to Hindustan Times.
Meanwhile, the incidence has already taken a political colour. BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) workers have protested against the AAP manifesto and submitted memorandums with the police commissioner of Punjab. In a scathing attack at AAP convenor Kejriwal, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has said, the act amounted to "desecration" of the holy book. According to a report in The Times of India Badal has called him "mentally sick" and asked for an apology from Kejriwal.
Speaking to Times Now, BJP leader RP Singh has said that AAP is intent on winning the elections in any which way that is why it is trying to flare up communal tensions for electoral gains. He also said that the people of Punjab are sentimental about their religion and they will not let AAP indulge in petty politics.
Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu also lashed out at AAP. He told Times Now that it could have passed off as an innocent mistake had this been a lone incident. Referring to the Naresh Yadav controversy, Bittu said unlike the previous incident, where AAP had cried foul, this case can't be a BJP conspiracy because everything is in front of the people. Bittu also said that he can smell a larger conspiracy hatched to disturb peace in the state.
AAP wants to instigate riots in the state, its tactics smell of larger conspiracy:Ravneet Bittu,Congress MP pic.twitter.com/grEl9gWkMK
— ANI (@ANI_news) July 6, 2016
Meanwhile, replying to the criticism, AAP has said the matter is being exaggarated needlessly, even after khetan has tendered an apology.
'Ashish Khetan apologised publicly, no reason to exaggerate': AAP on FIR agnst Khetan for comparing party's manifesto with Guru Granth Sahib
— ANI (@ANI_news) July 6, 2016
AAP is being seen as a strong contender against the SAD-BJP alliance in the state as the party's campaigns in the state gain momentum. This is the second such case of police action taken against an AAP leader in Punjab.
The AAP and the ruling SAD had also locked horns earlier in a similar incident, when another AAP leader Naresh Yadav was booked in the case of Quran sacrilege in Malerkotla in Sangrur district. The event had flared up political mud-slinging between the two parties in the holy month of Ramadan, with Kejriwal saying BJP was afraid of the election results which is why it was raking up controversies against his party.
With PTI inputs