West Bengal Criminal Investigation Department (CID) became the latest agency to register a case against Yogesh Varshney, a BJP youth wing leader who unleashed a controversy on Wednesday by announcing an award of Rs 11 lakh on the head of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
The complaint was lodged at the Bolpur police station of Birbhum district, the same area where a cane charge on a crowd on Hanuman Jayanti Day, the birthday of Lord Hanuman, allegedly infuriated Varshney to make the announcement.
The police complaint was lodged by Tapas Mondal, a local who alleged that the bounty announced on Mamata Banerjee’s head created “high commotion and tension in the area”.
The CID picked up the complaint and slapped sections 115 (abetment of offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life), 117 (abetting commission of offence by the public or by more than ten persons), 120B (Punishment of criminal conspiracy), 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation), 505(1)a (making statements with intent to cause army, navy or airforce personnel mutiny), 505(2) (statements likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquility) and 504 ( Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the Indian Penal Code.
The maximum punishment laid down in these sections is 14 years in jail.
Mamata Banerjee herself scoffed at the development. “I pray to the Almighty to forgive them, for they know not what they are saying. I need not say anything more,” she said.
“I am regularly targeted with offensive words. But, the more they say such things, the more we will progress. From Bengal to Jharkhand to Uttar Pradesh -- we will spread out towards Delhi,” said Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee at a public rally in Domkal of Murshidabad district on Wednesday.
On Wednesday a police complaint was also filed by Aligarh district Trinamool Congress President Ramphool Upadhyaya at the local Civil Lines Police Station.
The announcement by Varshney that was made on a video triggered such a furore across party lines that even BJP leaders quickly distanced themselves from it. Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh described it as “sheer madness”.
The imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque in Kolkata, who is close to the Bengal chief minister, announced a counter-offer of Rs 22 lakh to anyone severing the head of Varshney.
A former legislator of the Samajwadi Party (SP) Jameer Ullah also jumped into the controversy on Wednesday evening and remarked that the tongue of the BJP youth leader should be chopped off.
Varshney later withdrew his statement and apologised. He told the media that he made this announcement in a fit of rage and after seeing video footage of a crowd of Hindus who gathered in Bengal’s Birbhum district to celebrate Hanuman Jayanti (the birthday of Lord Hanuman) being charged with canes.