Slapping incident: Muslim cleric refuses to seek bail, says ‘Khuda will do him justice’
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)”.