Popular film critic Mahesh Kathi has been banned from entering Hyderabad for six months by the Telangana police, for allegedly making inflammatory statements that hurt religious sentiments of residents in the city.
In a press meet, Telangana Director General of Police (DGP) Mahender Reddy blamed Mahesh Kathi and said that it was his statements, which was causing unrest in the city.
The DGP even specifically named Mahesh Kathi in a statement to the media, saying, “Keeping in view the derogatory statements by Mahesh Kathi on multiple occasions leading to hurting of sentiments of large sections of people and adversely affecting even tempo of life, Kathi Mahesh has been externed from the city of Hyderabad for the next 6 months under the Telangana Prevention of Anti-Social and Hazardous Activities Act, 1980 and he has been taken out of the city to be dropped at his native place in Chittoor district.”
Earlier on Monday, the city police placed popular Hindu seer Swami Paripoornananda under house arrest at his Jubilee Hills residence.
The seer was scheduled to lead a ‘Darmika Chaitanya Yatra’ beginning from Hyderabad but the police said that they had not granted permission as they suspected that anti-social elements could take advantage of the rally and cause a disturbance to public peace.
“Certain elements with ulterior motives have been trying to hurt the sentiments of the people of a particular religion in the last two weeks resulting in disharmony, feelings of enmity, hatred and ill-will between groups, castes and community by airing their personal views in the public domain through electronic media or otherwise. On account of these unwarranted statements affecting the sentiments of one group or the other, other groups have started counter agitations,” the DGP’s statement had said, pointing fingers at Mahesh.
“This has posed a great threat to public peace and tranquillity and likely to result in serious disturbance to public peace and order. Keeping these developments in view, it has been decided to take stern action against any individual or group or groups of individuals trying to disturb peace in Hyderabad city and the state of Telangana at large. Nobody shall be spared for indulging in such activities,” the statement added.
It all began after Kathi Mahesh allegedly made derogatory comments against Lord Rama and Sita during a debate on a regional news channel.
Mahesh was participating in a debate about a sedition case filed against rationalist Babu Gogineni, when he said, “For me, Ramayana is just another story…I believe Rama is as much a cheater (dagulbhaji) as he is ideal in that story. And I think perhaps Sita would have been better, might have gotten justice if she had stayed with Ravana. What’s wrong with that?”
Even as police complaints were filed against the critic, Hindu seer Paripoornanda said that he will go to any extent to ensure Kathi Mahesh is arrested for humiliating Hindu sentiments.
Since then the two groups continued to exchange words, amid rising tension.
Activists also held a press conference and condemned the attack against Kathi Mahesh, which they termed a ‘witch hunt’, even as the seer’s self-proclaimed followers began issuing death threats to the critic.
Notice to TV outlet
Meanwhile, the DGP also issued a stern warning to media outlets and online websites that repeatedly telecast and published Mahesh’s statements.
“The members of the broadcasting channels are requested to act with a sense of responsibility. the media channels cannot be permitted to act as platforms for nurturing and promoting divisive tendencies among various groups based on case, community and religion leading to law and order problems, which is a violation of the law,” the statement reads.
A case has also been registered against him at the Banjara Hills police station, as the TV studio falls under its jurisdiction under Sections 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 505 (statements disturbing public tranquillity) of the Indian Penal Code.
The DGP also pointed out that ‘viral websites’ were also indulging in such activities and said that action would be initiated against the concerned outlets for promoting animosity between various groups.
Warning the TV channels against repeatedly telecasting the ‘objectionable comment’, the DGP said, “A Notice have been served to the management of the TV channel responsible for telecasting malicious content hurting religious sentiments, directing them to explain why the management should not be prosecuted for the offences under Section 16 and 17 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act No. 7 of 1995 for violation of the Programme Code.”