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Madras HC grants Kamal Hassan protection from arrest over Godse remark

Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) leader Kamal Haasan came under fire from the BJP and other outfits after he said that the first terrorist in free India was a Hindu in a reference to Nathuram Godse.

lok sabha elections Updated: May 20, 2019 14:29 IST
MC Rajan
MC Rajan
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Kamal Haasan,Nathuram Godse,Nathuram Godse remark
Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan was granted anticipatory bail by the Madurai bench of Madras High Court in a case filed by the Hindu Munnani party for his comments on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse. (PTI File Photo)

The Madurai bench of Madras High Court on Monday granted anticipatory bail to Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) founder Kamal Hassan in a case filed by the Hindu Munnani party over his comments on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse.

Kamal Haasan had said on May 12 that free India’s first extremist was a Hindu in a reference to Nathuram Godse while campaigning for his party’s candidate S Mohanraj for the Aravakkurichi assembly by-poll. The polls were held on Sunday.

Nathuram Godse, a right-wing activist, had assassinated Mahatma Gandhi on January 30, 1948. Eight men were convicted in the murder trial inside the Red Fort by a special court, constituted by an order of the central government. Godse and co-conspirator Narayan Apte were hanged for the murder of the Father of the Nation on November 15, 1949.

Haasan had approached the high court after RSS-affiliated Hindu Munnani (Hindu Front) registered a case against him with police in Aravakurichi of Karur district. Police had booked Haasan under non-bailable sections 153 and 295 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), charging him with creating enmity between religious groups and fomenting trouble.

Also read| ‘All religions have extremists’: Kamal Haasan after slipper attack, Godse row

The Bharatiya Janata Party, Hindu Munnani, Indu Makkal Katchi and other RSS affiliates as well the BJP’s ally the ruling AIADMK made Hassan the target of their attack after his comment on Godse.

The BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit president Tamilisai Soundarrajan accused Hassan of indulging in minority appeasement and the party’s national secretary H Raja described the MNM as a poisonous shrub which had to be nipped in the bud. The AIADMK’s minister Rajenthira Bhalaji even called for chopping off the actor’s tongue.

His MNM said Kamal Haasan was calling for “religious tolerance and co-existence” and that his speech was taken “absolutely out of context and painted as anti-Hindu with a malafide intent”. Amid the controversy, slippers, eggs and stones were hurled at Kamal Haasan during his public meetings last week.

In his petition before the high court, Hassan said he had only spoken about Godse and not about Hinduism. “Even Godse had admitted to assassinating the Mahatma in the book ‘Why I killed Gandhi’ and what he had spoken was a historical fact,” he said.

The actor-turned-politician also contended that his speech was edited to paint him in the black.

Opposing the grant of advance bail, the prosecution contended that an abnormal situation was prevailing following the actor’s Godse remark. It said granting relief to Kamal Haasan would set a wrong precedent, pointing that more than 50 complaints have been lodged against the leader.

However, Justice B Pugalendhi, who had reserved his order last week, rejected the objections and granted conditional bail considering Hassan’s speech made during by-poll campaign in Aravakurichi, in its entirety.

The judge also directed the actor to appear before the concerned judicial magistrate and execute the surety within 15 days.

Also read| ‘Can’t change my hero’: Kamal Haasan calls Mahatma Gandhi a superstar

First Published: May 20, 2019 12:05 IST

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