The Uttar Pradesh police have registered an FIR against Tamil Nadu Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin for his remarks against ‘Sanatana Dharma,’ and also against Karnataka Minister Priyank Kharge who later expressed support to these views. The Civil Lines police station under UP’s Rampur district has booked both the Ministers under sections 153A (promoting enmity) and 295A (insult to religion) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The First Information Report was registered on September 4, based on a complaint filed by a person identified as Ramsingh Lodhi.
At a Sanatanam (Sanatana Dharma) Abolition Conclave organised by the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers Forum on September 2, DMK leader Udhayanidhi had said that Sanatana Dharma must be eradicated, saying it was against the idea of social justice. The complainant called Udhayanidhi’s speech comparing Sanatana Dharma with diseases such as dengue, malaria and COVID “indecent”, saying it had hurt his religious sentiments. He claimed that Udhayanidhi’s remarks could adversely affect the maintenance of enmity and harmony between different groups on the basis of religion.
The complainant also objected to Congress leader Priyank Kharge endorsing Udhayanidhi’s views. Both DMK and Congress are part of the INDIA alliance of opposition parties.
Speaking at the Sanatanam Abolition Conclave, Tamil Nadu’s Youth Welfare and Sports Development Minister Udhayanidhi had said, “I congratulate the organisers for naming the conference as 'eradication of Santana dharma' instead of 'opposing Sanatana Dharma'... There are certain things which we have to eradicate and we cannot merely oppose. Mosquitoes, dengue, corona and malaria are things which we cannot oppose, we have to eradicate them. Sanatanam is also like this. Eradication and not opposing Sanatanam has to be our first task.” His remarks drew backlash and were condemned by BJP leaders and other right-wing groups as they interpreted it as advocating for ‘genocide’ of the followers of Sanatana Dharma.
Udhayanidhi had later clarified that he had not called for genocide. He said that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had often called for a ‘Congress-Mukt Bharat’ but it doesn’t mean that he is calling for all Congress members to be killed. He further accused the BJP of twisting facts as a “regular habit.”
Following the controversy, Karnataka’s IT Minister Priyank Kharge defended Udhayanidhi’s remarks. “Any religion that does not promote equality, any religion that does not ensure that you have the dignity of being a human being is not a religion according to me. Any religion which does not give equal rights or does not treat you like humans is not a religion, so it is as good as disease,” he said.