The Haryana police on Wednesday arrested actor-comedian Kiku Sharda from Mumbai and brought him to Kaithal for allegedly hurting religious sentiments by mimicking Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. Sharda, best known for playing the character Palak on the show Comedy Nights with Kapil, was produced in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Nandita Kaushik. The court sent him to 14-day judicial custody.
Later in the day, Sharda was released on bail in the case registered against him in Kaithal. However, the comedian was arrested again on his way to Delhi since there is a similar case against him in Fatehabad. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said the state government had nothing to do with Sharda’s arrest.
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Kaithal Superintendent of Police Krishan Murari said, “Sharda was an accused in one of the criminal cases registered here. We learnt of his whereabouts and arrested him.” Uday Singh, a follower of the Sirsa-based Dera sect, had lodged a police complaint in Kaithal, accusing Sharda and eight others of hurting religious sentiments. A case was registered against Sharda under Section 295-A of the IPC (outraging religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious belief) on December 31.
The complainant alleged that Sharda, while acting in a TV show, Jashn-e-Umeed, which aired on December 27, mimicked the Dera chief and made fun of a scene from his recent movie, MSG-2. On Wednesday evening, the Dera chief tweeted, “I was busy shooting OnlineGurukul; just got to know, devotees are hurt due to Kiku’s action. If he has apologised, no complaint from my side.”
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Even since the show was aired, Dera followers have been protesting on the streets and blocking highways, demanding action against Sharda. Speaking to the media after his arrest, Sharda apologised and said he was only playing a role given to him by the channel and the programme’s producers.
“Being an actor, I was given a dress and a script to read. I was directed to act. While no action has been taken against anybody else, I have been arrested. An actor’s aim is always to entertain the public and not to hurt anybody’s religious feelings,” he said.