Police in Thane, Maharashtra city, have filed defamation charges against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over his “disparaging” remarks against freedom fighter VD Savarkar, an official said on Friday.
The first information report (FIR) against Gandhi was registered at Thane Nagar police station on Thursday, he said.
“The case was filed on the basis of the complaint filed by Vandana Dongre, an official of the Shiv Sena faction headed by the chief minister of Maharashtra, Eknath Shinde. The complainant alleged that Gandhi hurt citizens’ feelings by his derogatory statements against Savarkar,” the official said.
The offense was registered under sections 500 (defamation) and 501 (printing or engraving known to be defamatory) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), he said.
Rahul Gandhi, whose Bharat Jodo Yatra is currently touring Maharashtra, held a press conference in Wadegaon in Akola district on Thursday where he claimed that Savarkar helped the British rulers and wrote a petition for mercy to them out of fear, betraying Mahatma Gandhi. Sardar Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru and other freedom struggle leaders.
Two days earlier, Gandhi had addressed a rally in Washim district organized as part of his yatra where he called Savarkar a symbol of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). “He was imprisoned in Andaman for two to three years. He started writing petitions for mercy,” the congressman had said there.
The BJP and Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena, the faction led by Shinde, have criticized Gandhi for the comments. The workers of these parties are protesting against him. Uddhav Thackeray, whose faction of the Sena cooperates with the Congress, also denounced Gandhi’s statements against Savarkar.
Ranjit Savarkar, the grandson of the late Hindutva ideologue, filed a complaint against Gandhi at Shivaji Park Police Station in Mumbai on Thursday for allegedly insulting his grandfather.
Gandhi is already facing another defamation case in Thane district. In 2014, an RSS operative brought the case against Gandhi after watching his speech in Thane’s Bhiwandi township, where the congress leader claimed that the RSS was behind Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. The complainant alleged that this statement defamed the reputation of the RSS. In 2018, the court had charged Gandhi in the case, but he pleaded not guilty.
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