Criminal Defamation Suit Filed Against Javed Akhtar For Comparing Sadhvi Pragya to Ravana

Written by SabrangIndia | Published on: May 7, 2019
Bhopal: A case of criminal defamation has been filed by a local advocate Rajesh Kansuriya against veteran poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar for drawing parallels between 2008 Malegaon blast accused, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Bhopal candidate, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Ravana- the demon in Hindu mythology.

Pragya Thakur

Expressing his sharp disapproval of BJP’s  decision to nominate a terror accused from the Bhopal seat, Akhtar said, “Don't go by her appearance. Just because a person looks like a saint doesn't mean the person is a saint. Don't forget that when Ravana came to abduct Sita, he too was dressed like a saint.” Akhtar was speaking at a press conference in Bhopal on May 2.

Further hitting out at BJP’s ‘poor choice’ of candidate, Akhtar said, “You (BJP) should have looked for a place which is inhabited by illiterate, communal people and made her contest from there. Democracy can only flourish if there is a clear demarcation between the state and religion.”

Warning the BJP against mixing religion with politics, Akhtar emphasized that countries where state and religion work together, democracy can never work. He then went on to cite the examples of the Middle-East and Latin America.

The complainant has alleged that Akhtar had intentionally made objectionable remarks against Pragya in order to provoke the voters. The complaint also mentions about another statement by Akhtar wherein he said that not all saffron clad people are sadhus, similarly Sadhvi Pragya also isn’t a sadhu.

The petitioner has requested the court to act against Akhtar under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code that deals with defamation. The hearing is scheduled for May 24.

Akhtar had earlier drawn ire from the right-wing Hindu extremists after he said that ghoonghats and burqas are the same so both should be banned. Responding to the demand for banning burqa in Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamna, Akhtar had said, “There is a controversy over the burqa. Iran is a hardliner Muslim country, but women don't cover their faces there. A new law in Sri Lanka bars women from covering their faces. Whatever is your attire, the face should be visible.” Adding further, he said, “If someone wants this kind of law here, and if this is somebody's opinion I don't have any objection. But before the end of last phase of elections, the government must announce that no woman will be allowed to use ghoonghat in Rajasthan. Faces covered with the burqa or the ghoonghat, it's the same. If both would be removed, I would be happy.”

Rajput Karni Sena, a Rajasthan-based organisation, issued death threats to Akhtar over these comments. Jivan Singh Solanki, president of the Maharashtra wing of the Karni Sena, published a video in which he is heard saying, “We will gouge out your eyes and pull out your tongue if you don't apologise. We will enter your house and beat you.” Warning Akhtar of dire consequences if he doesn’t apologise, Solanki said, “The burqa is associated with terrorism and (is a question of) national security. We have asked Akhtar to render an apology within three days or face the consequences.”

Later, Akhtar clarified his statement by tweeting, “Some people are trying to distort my statement. I have said that may be in Sri Lanka it is done for security reasons but actually it is required for women empowerment. covering the face should be stopped whether naqab or ghoonghat.”

Akhtar showed neutrality by saying that Congress president Rahul Gandhi hadn’t done anything to prove that he is capable of becoming a prime minister. He then praised BJP leaders like Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee but expressed discontent with PM Modi and called BJP president Amit Shah his “assistant.”

With every passing day, expressing dissent or speaking against the ruling government makes one appear as ‘anti-national.’ This is posing a severe threat on our constitutional freedom of speech and expression. Such judicial actions and threats by people close to the party affects the democratic structure and the foundation of our nation.

Related Articles: