Sensational Statements of Sadhvi Saraswati

By Ashwin Tombat
25 June 2017 18:04 IST

On Friday, the Congress party staged a demonstration in front of Police Headquarters in Panaji to protest against the recent statement of president of Sanatan Dharma Prachar Seva Samiti chief Sadhvi Saraswati. They burnt her effigy.

Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) spokesperson Pratima Coutinho accused the government of shying away from taking action against the Sadhvi. Ms Coutinho is right. The Goa government has shown little interest in taking action against the Sadhvi.

And she did say some very inflammable and objectionable things.

The Sadhvi was at the four-day All-India Hindu Convention convened by the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, a frontal organisation of the Sanatan Sanstha — whose 'Seekers' have been implicated in bomb blasts in Thane (near Mumbai) and Margao, as well as in the murders of Rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and Communist stalwart and Shivaji scholar Govind Pansare — held last week.

Sadhvi Saraswati declared: "Those who are supporting the consumption of beef in the country and those who see it as a status symbol should be publicly executed by the government... We should apply the same laws which are applied for homicide cases against people found butchering cattle."

Apart from the usual spewing of venom against Muslims, the self-appointed Godwoman said that Hindus should arm themselves to "save our women from Love Jihad". But she followed this up by a direct threat to moderate Hindus: "Pehle Hindu ko hi Hindu banana hai (first we need to convert a Hindu to Hindu); that is our biggest challenge today... They are in the garb of seculars... these seculars are the first who will be attacked," she said.

The response from the government has been very subtle. In his Liberation Day speech in Panaji on Sunday 18 June, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar warned of taking "strict action" against those trying to "promote lawlessness in the state".

Earlier, Town and Country Planning Minister Vijai Sardesai talked of "strong action". He said: “Goa has 60 lakh tourists coming every year, including these kinds of Saraswatis. They don’t know what is ‘Goenkarponn’. They make controversial statements basically to gain some cheap publicity."

There has been no action. Is that because there has been no complaint?

In Karnataka, Sadhvi Saraswati was charged under Sections 153(A) of the IPC (engendering enmity between religions, castes or communities) for similar remarks at the Hindu Samajotsava held in Mangalore on 1 March 2015. This was based on a complaint filed at Pandeshwar Police Station by Suresh Bhat Bakrabail, Dakshina Kannada District President of Komu Souharda Vedike, an organisation that professes communal harmony.

But the bigger question here is, should the government take action in this case?

Was the Delhi Police right in arresting JNU students Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, Anirbhan Bhattacharya and former Delhi University professor SAR Geelani for sedition last year? Even a year later, the police had been unable to file a chargesheet in that case.

The reason is simple. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that sedition only applies when there is clear and immediate incitement to violence. It first made this clear in 1962 in the Kedar Nath Singh judgment. In 1995, in the Balwant Singh case, it ruled that shouting 'Khalistan Zindabad' was not seditious. More recently, in September 2016, the Supreme Court explicitly reaffirmed this position.

The same, undoubtedly, pertains to Ms Saraswati. She may call for armed attacks on secular Hindus. But as long as neither the Sadhvi nor any of her admirers actually arm themselves to carry out such attacks, she is not actually breaking the law.

 

Blogger's Profile

Ashwin Tombat

Ashwin Tombat has been the Editor of Gomantak Times and Herald. Worked as an Associate Editor of national magazine Gentleman in Mumbai, before shifting to Goa. Loves sailing, also participates in Marathons. Has worked as an activist in students's union and trade unions in Maharashtra. Also an artist of Street Theatre during student days.

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