Six Hindu Mahasabha activists were arrested for allegedly celebrating the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse at a temple in Surat's Limbayat area on Sunday, police said.
Godse was born in Baramati in Pune district, then part of the Bombay Presidency, on 19 May in 1910.
The Hindu Mahasabha activists had organised the celebration in the premises of Suryamukhi Hanuman temple in Limbyayat area of city, following which they were arrested on Monday, said Surat Police Commissioner Satish Sharma.
“During the celebration of Godse’s birth anniversary, these Hindu Mahasabha members lit up diyas around Godse’s photo, exchanged sweets and sang bhajans in the temple premise. They even made videos and took photographs of the event.”Satish Sharma, Commissioner of Police, Surat
"Their act of revering Godse, who had killed Gandhiji, deeply hurt the sentiments of citizens. It was an attempt to incite people and disturb peaceful atmosphere," said Sharma.
Officials said the six have been arrested under IPC sections 153 (provocation with an intent to cause riot), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups, doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 153B (making assertions prejudicial to national-integration). Police identified those arrested as Hiren Mashru, Vala Bharwad, Viral Malvi, Hitesh Sonar, Yogesh Patel and Manish Kalal.
Condemning the act of the Hindu Mahasabha, the ruling BJP's spokesperson Bharat Pandya said criticising Gandhiji was like "spitting at the sky", adding that such celebrations were being carried out by "immature people who do not have the vision to under the Mahatma's teachings".
The Congress, however, attacked the BJP on the issue.
“The BJP must tell the nation whether they endorse Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology or that of Godse. Be it Anant Kumar Hegde or Pragya Singh Thakur, BJP leaders are busy promoting Godse’s ideology. This is a matter of serious concern. The ruling party’s ‘double standards’ have been exposed.”Manish Doshi, Gujarat Congress spokesperson
Gujarat Minister for State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja said the state government would not tolerate such celebrations of Godse's birthday, and claimed prompt instruction to the police led to all six Mahasabha members being arrested.