President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal Bhavnagar units, Ashoksinh Gohil, was arrested on Thursday for his alleged remarks “hurting religious sentiments of a community” and sharing them on social media, police said.
A scrap dealer from Bhavanagar city, Abid Pacha, was also arrested for allegedly making comments “prejudicial” to a religious group. Police saying the remarks originated from difference of views over spread of coronavirus infection in the country.
Based on separate complaints filed by Bhavnagar Local Crime Branch police sub-inspector NG Jadeja, Gohil was booked by Ghogha Road police station while Pacha was booked by Gangajaliya police station in Bhavanagar city. Both have been booked under Indian Penal Code Section 153-A (prompting enmity between two groups on grounds of religion).
Gogha Road police inspector RI Solanki confirmed that Gohil, a resident of Sukhsagar Society in Bhavnagar city and leader of two Hindu rightwing organisations, was arrested. “Gohil is in police custoday and a sub-inspector is investigating the case,” said Solanki.
Meanwhile, Gangajaliya police confirmed the arrest of Pacha, a resident of Aman Palace in Jamnakund area of Bhavnagar city. “A few days ago, a post went viral on WhatsApp, calling for the boycott of Muslim street vendors, holding them responsible for the spread of coronavirus. Pacha called up one Kamleshbahi, complaining about the same. Audio clip of this conversation was later shared in WhatsApp groups. Taking note of that, we filed a complaint against Pacha,” Jadeja told The Indian Express.
LCB police inspector VV Odedra said that after hearing the conversation of Pacha and Kamleshbhai, Gohil took the number of one Salim and called him up and made some remarks “hurting sentiments”. “Therefore, LCB filed a complaint against Gohil also,” said Odedra.
Haji Abdul Karim Sheikh, a businessman from Bhavanagar, who attended the Nizamuddin congregation, died of COVID-19 on March 26. He was the first to test positive in Bhavanagar. Since then, the district recorded 18 cases so far and the authorities say Sheikh is direct or indirect source of infection in 16 of them.
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