The Kolkata police have lodged an FIR against the organisers of the All India Hindu Mahasabha Durga Puja pandal after a controversy broke out over the ‘asura’ being depicted as a bespectacled, dhoti-clad bald man with a walking stick, appearing similar to Mahatma Gandhi. Following an appeal by the police, the organisers later added a wig and a moustache to the ‘asura’.
“A case has been lodged against the organisers, we are looking into it,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Murlidhar Sharma told The Indian Express.
The case was lodged under sections 188 (disobedience to an order lawfully promulgated by a public servant), 283 (causing danger or obstruction in any public way), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
According to the police, after a row broke out over the issue, police personnel were sent to the Durga Puja pandal around 7.30 pm on Sunday. The police said they appealed to the organisers to add a wig and moustache to the ‘asura’, and after initial resistance, the organisers relented. “Hair and moustache have been added on the ‘asura’ which was originally Mahatma Gandhi’s lookalike,” a local police official told The Indian Express.
“It is with deep anguish (that the) Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha is bringing this information to all Sanatanis that our Maa Durga Puja at Ruby Crossing is under direct threat unleashed by vested political forces who want to close the venue as we are representing this year Durga Puja with a theme against corruption. We were requested by the police and were forced to add a wig. I have also heard that zero FIR has been filed against me. I will fight it legally,” Chandrachur Goswami, the West Bengal All India Hindu Mahasabha president, told The Indian Express. “A huge [police] force came last night, the police asked us to change it, they were under pressure from the home ministry. We have obliged the police by putting a moustache and hair on Mahishasur’s idol,” he added.
“Our pandal has received a mixed response, many visitors have identified the ‘asura’ as Gandhiji and appreciated it. I received a call from the home ministry over the controversy and they told me that any similarity to Gandhiji as ‘asura’ is not accepted,” Goswami said.
While Goswami said that a bald person with spectacles need not be Mahatma Gandhi, he added that he and his organisation were followers of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and did not feel there was anything wrong in criticising Mahatma Gandhi.