The Amritsar police late Tuesday booked Aam Aadmi Party leader Ashish Khetan for his remark equating the party’s poll manifesto to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the religious scripture of the Sikhs.
The case against Khetan, on the charge of hurting religious sentiments, comes on the heels of a controversy over AAP putting its symbol, the broom, on a photograph of the Golden Temple on its manifesto cover.
The rookie party hopes to replicate its monster victory in Delhi last year in the 2017 assembly polls in Punjab, and is seen as a strong contender against the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP and opposition Congress.
Khetan — who apologised for the remark on Tuesday — faces a jail term of up to three years if found guilty. The police were non-committal on whether he would be arrested but said he would be questioned. “We’ll call him to join the investigation after going through a video clip of his speech,” said police commissioner Amar Singh Chahal.
At a public function in Amritsar on Sunday, Khetan — holding a copy of the manifesto — had said, “Our manifesto is an agreement with the people. This is our Bible, this is our Gita, and this our Guru Granth Sahib.”
The case was registered on the complaint of All India Sikh Students Federation president Karnail Singh Peer Mohammad.
In Delhi, a meeting was held at AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal’s house where Khetan was present.
Seeking forgiveness for Khetan, senior AAP leader and Punjab in-charge Sanjay Singh said, “Khetan has apologised publicly. He did not intend to hurt anyone’s sentiments.”
Khetan could not be reached despite repeated attempts.
This is the second time police have acted against an AAP leader in Punjab. Earlier, party MLA Naresh Yadav was questioned after pages of the Quran were found in a drain in Sangrur district in June, an incident that led to tensions flaring during Ramzan. The main accused claimed he had carried out the desecration at the behest of Yadav, who in turn called it a conspiracy of the “restless” SAD-BJP.
(With inputs from HT Correspondent in New Delhi)