Apology doesn’t help, AAP’s Khetan booked for hurting Sikh sentiments

  • Aseem Bassi, Hindustan Times, Amritsar
  • Updated: Jul 07, 2016 12:00 IST
New Delhi, India - March 26, 2014: AAP Party leader Ashish Khetan addresses a press conference on DDA land of Katputli colony, at the party office in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (Photo by Sushil Kumar/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)

The Amritsar police registered a case against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Ashish Khetan on Tuesday for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.

The journalist-turned-politician was booked just hours after he tendered an apology publicly in Ludhiana for equating the party’s youth manifesto with Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib. The first information report (FIR) was registered at Civil Lines police station on Tuesday night under Section (295-A) of the Indian Penal Code, which prescribes up to three years of jail, with or without fine, on the complaint of All India Sikh Student Federation (AISSF) president Karnail Singh Peer Mohammad.

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The charge of hurting religious sentiments means double trouble for the party. It comes just days after Naresh Yadav, party MLA from Mehrauli in Delhi, was booked by Punjab Police in connection with the June 24 Quran sacrilege incident in Malerkotla. One of the accused had claimed that he acted at the behest of the AAP legislator.

In the latest instance, Khetan, while holding a copy of the AAP youth manifesto at a function here on Sunday, said: “Our manifesto is an agreement with people. This is our Bible, this is our Gita, and this is our Guru Granth Sahib.” The complainant also objected to AAP’s putting its broom symbol over the picture of the Golden Temple, holiest shrine of Sikhs, on the manifesto cover.

Though Khetan said sorry publicly , but his apology failed to assuage the hurt religious sentiments of the complainant and leaders of the rival parties. The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the opposition Congress have criticised the AAP leaders, calling the act “blasphemous”.

Police commissioner Amar Singh Chahal said they would call Khetan to join probe after going through the video clip of his speech. However, the police didn’t say if he would be arrested or not but they were sure a notice for questioning was coming his way. Peer Mohammad, on whose complaint the case has been registered, wants AAP convener Kejriwal and Khetan to come to Golden Temple and apologise to the Sikh community. He also said that a gathering of Sikh organisations will be held in Jalandhar on July 9 to decide further strategy.

Already, revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia has sued Khetan for defamation here. Kejriwal and senior leader Sanjay Singh are other accused in that case.

(Follow @HTPunjab for more updates)

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