George Ponniah, a priest and consultant to an NGO Jananyaga Christhuva Peravai Amaipu in Kanniyakumari, has apologised after his alleged provocative remarks on the Hindu religion and beliefs created a stir on social media.
Ponniah also reportedly criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. Following this, Hindu organisations condemned his speech and demanded arrests. Close to 30 complaints were filed in Kanniyakumari and many in other districts of Tamil Nadu.
Ponniah, meanwhile, said some portion was edited out of his speech during the meeting convened to pay homage to activist Stan Swamy and spread on social media giving it a community-slander angle.
“By watching that edited video, many people have misconstrued that I spoke against Hindu religion and beliefs. I and the people who spoke at the meeting never said anything of that sort. If at all our speech had hurt the sentiments of my Hindu brothers and sisters, I wholeheartedly apologise for it. I would like to say to my loving Hindu brothers and sisters, that even in the future, I will never pass such comments,” he said.
According to reports, on July 18, in Arumanai town in Kanniyakumari district, a meeting was convened by minority organisations in memory of Stan Swamy. Speaking at the event, George Ponniah alleged that the Tamil Nadu minority welfare ministry and minority commission had been denying minorities from conducting prayer meetings.
Ponniah said he had toiled hard along with many minority organisations to win DMK votes in the recent state elections but after coming to power, the party seemed to have ignored them.
“We campaigned in areas where politicians were not able to enter. We urged everyone to vote for DMK and said our miseries would be gone if DMK came to power, but within 60 days after this government assumed charge, we were made to protest for our rights. Before elections, they promised to safeguard our rights. The votes they [DMK] got are alms provided by the minority communities,” he said.
Ponniah slammed Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board Minister Sekar Babu, IT Minister Mano Thangaraj among others for their actions which were alleged to be in favour of the Hindu community. He also triggered a row with his comment on Bharat Mata. “We wear slippers to make sure we don’t get our feet dirty and get any disease because of Bharat Mata,” Ponniah was seen telling in the video while commenting on an MLA who avoids wearing slippers as a gesture of respecting Bharat Mata.
Speaking to Indianexpress.com, a police officer from Arumanai confirmed that an FIR has been registered under several sections of the IPC against George Ponniah and they are carrying out further investigation.