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Anti-Muslim speech: Varun Gandhi faces arrest

Source: PTI
March 17, 2009 16:58 IST
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The Pilibhit police on Tuesday registered a case against Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Varun Gandhi for his allegedly inflammatory speeches on the directions of the Election Commission.

Station Officer of the Barkhera police station registered the case against Gandhi for allegedly making speeches with an intention to create enemity among people on the basis of religion.

The case was filed under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Representation of the People Act and for violations of the model code of conduct. Pilibhit SP R K Chaturvedi said a team has been sent to Bareilly to arrest Gandhi.

The three-member Commission which met today and discussed the speeches of Varun, a member of the Gandhi-Nehru family, in Pilibhit in which he had made inflammatory comments against the members of a minority community. The comments drew sharp criticism from within his party and allies and outside.

In a slew of decisions, the EC directed the Uttar Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer to file a case under Indian Penal Code and Representation of the People Act against Gandhi. It ordered issue of notice to BJP and Gandhi for alleged violation of Model Code of Conduct. The EC also ordered transfer of district officials and suspended two others for alleged dereliction of duty.

Earlier, the District Magistrate and the ditrict election officer had sent Gandhi a notice seeking his explanation on the speeches in which he had made allegedly made rabid remarks against members of a minority community. However, the official was not satisfied with the explanation, sources said.

Under the Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code and under Section 125 of the RPA, promoting enmity between different groups on various grounds including religion is punishable by imprisonment which may extend upto three years.

Any person convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for over two years shall be disqualified from contesting elections. The EC's action came as Congress met the Commission and complained about Gandhi's speech. Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh said the speech "is highly deplorable and deserves proper action".

Terming Gandhi's comments as 'shocking', BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain demanded an unconditional apology from him while the party asked all its poll nominees to 'practice caution' in their speech. BJP's ally and Janata Dal - United leader Shivanand Tiwari said that the Election Commission should take cognisance of Gandhi's speech and that there should be a 'legitimate' inquiry.

The 29-year-old Gandhi, whose mother Maneka Gandhi is also a BJP Member of Parliament, today said the CD of his speeches has been tampered with. He said he would address a press conference at the party forum on Wednesday to clarify the position.

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