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Slapping incident: Muslim cleric refuses to seek bail, says ‘Khuda will do him justice’
25-09-2014

AHMEDABAD: Sufi Imam Mehdi Hasan, who was arrested for his controversial remarks on the Navratri festival, was assaulted by a youth outside the Thasra court in Kheda district, where he was produced by the local police on Wednesday.

Hasan was sent to jail in judicial custody till October 2 after he refused to apply for bail and told the court, “Khuda mera insaf karega (Almighty will do justice for me).” The cleric was arrested a day before for allegedly describing garba as entertainment for the doers of “demonic deeds” hurting religious sentiments.

He came into the spotlight in September 2011 when he offered Narendra Modi, then chief minister, a skull cap, when greeting him on the Sadbhavana fast. Modi had refused to wear the cap.

The eyewitnesses said that the time Hasan was brought in a police van the court premises was cramming with agitated people. The moment Hasan got out of the van a person, later identified as Rakesh R Patel, slapped Hasan pushing him to the ground. The police escorting Hasan soon got hold of the attacker. In no time the video grabs of the incident went viral.

“The man (attacker) leapt towards Hasan and beat him. We immediately took preventive measures,” said Kheda district Superintendent of Police Sachin Badshah.

After the incident the cleric was produced before the judge PV Bhatt who sent him to 14 days judicial custody. He refused to hire any lawyer to defend himself. In the meantime, the Thasra police arrested Rakesh Patel, a resident of Nadiad, and lodged an FIR under section 323 of IPC (voluntarily causing hurt). The police said that Patel has no association with the VHP, however, a senior member of VHP in Nadiad said that Patel is a VHP office bearer of Kapadwanj in Nadiad.

Hasan had allegedly told a local journalist at his village in Rustampura of Thasra taluka on Sunday that “Garba is a not a religious festival, but a place where those who do demonic deeds visit”. This remark turned into a major controversy with VHP demanding his immediate arrest. The remark came in the middle of ongoing shrill campaign to keep Muslims out of garbas in Gujarat as well as neighbouring state Madhya Pradesh.

VHP member Ritesh Suthar, resident of Shriramnagar society in Thasra, had lodged an FIR against the imam alleging to have “insulted religious sentiments”.

Suthar quoted from the Imam’s alleged comment reported in a local newspaper on Sunday, that “rakshasi krutya karne wale garba mein aate hain (those who carry out demonic deeds visit garbas)”.