fComedian Kiku Sharda, best known for his drag act as Palak in popular TV show "Comedy Nights With Kapil", was today arrested by Haryana police on a complaint alleging he hurt religious sentiments by mimicking Dera Sacha Sauda sect head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
Kiku, 40, was sent to 14-day judicial custody after police produced him before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Nandita Kaushik. He was arrested from Mumbai by the Haryana Police.
Kiku was booked on December 31 under section 295 A of the Indian Penal Code (outraging religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious belief).
A case was registered on the complaint of one Uday Singh, a follower of Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda, police said here.
While talking to media after his arrest, Kiku apologised and said that he was an artist and "presented the programme on the directions of the TV channel and programme producers".
"I was given a dress, script to read and directed to act," he said, adding that he had been booked in this case but no action was taken against others including the TV channel which aired the show.
He said that his aim was only to entertain the public and not to hurt the religious feeling and sentiments of any person.
He had earlier told Hindustan Times that it was not his intention to hurt anyone. "I have a lot of respect for Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singhji. The look [on the show] wasnâ€™t deliberate; it just happened to match [Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singhâ€™s look]. We didnâ€™t plan it as a spoof on him."
Itâ€™s a coincidence, and it is unfortunate. I am sorry that people felt hurt. We never try to do any such thing intentionally, or try to get headlines out of it, or want people to talk about our show in this manner. There is nothing more to it," he had said.
Doston the act on TV was not to hurt anyone's feelings. My apologies to @Gurmeetramrahim ji and his followers. Let's spread happiness.â€” kiku sharda (@kikusharda) December 28, 2015
Comedian Kapil Sharma on Wednesday took to Facebook and urged Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to support Kiku Sharda. Sharma said that Sharda is just an artist trying to spread happiness in the world.
Dera followers had alleged that Kiku had hurt their religious sentiments by mimicking their sect head in an episode of the TV show aired on December 27.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said the state government has nothing to do with the arrest of Kiku.
"It is a matter of law and order. An FIR has been registered and police will take action accordingly," he told reporters in Chandigarh. "The law will take its own course".
Khattar, a BJP leader, was asked whether the arrest of the comedian did not amount to another instance of intolerance.
The Dera followers had even protested against Kiku, who shot to fame with comedy show "FIR", seeking action against him.