Thursday 7 February 2019 5:00 AM UTC
ALIGARH Feb 7: A leader of a right-wing group, instrumental in shocking recreation of the shooting of Mahatma Gandhi and missing since, was arrested yesterday.
Pooja Shakun Pandey, a leader of the Hindu Mahasabha — to which Mahatma Gandhi’s killer, Nathuram Godse also belonged — was caught from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh. Her husband Ashok Pandey was also taken into custody, the police said.
On January 30, the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Hindu Mahasabha held a function at Aligarh during which Godse’s statue was garlanded and sweets were distributed.
The enactment of the assassination was also held and reporters were told that it would henceforth be held every year like the burning of the demon king Ravana’s effigy during Dusshera.
A video of the enactment, showing Pooja Shakun Pandey shooting an effigy of the Mahatma, sparked outrage.
This year is the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and it was the theme of this year’s Republic Day Parade. The 90-minute parade saw 22 larger-than-life tableaux, each one giving a special tribute to Mahatma Gandhi. Several projects of the government, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship Clean India Project, had their genesis in the Mahatma’s ideas.
The Uttar Pradesh police registered criminal cases against 12 people in connection with the shocking enactment. Three persons seen in the video were arrested last week.
The right-wing group regards the day of Mahatma Gandhi’s death as “Shaurya Divas” (Bravery Day), in honour of Nathuram Godse. The right-wing activist was one of the early members of the organisation, founded by Madan Mohan Malaviya in 1915.
This is not the first time the Hindu Mahasabha has tried to glorify Nathuram Godse.
In 2015, the group’s leader, Swami Pranavananda had announced plans to install statues of Nathuram Godse across six districts of Karnataka. He also described the assassin as a “patriot” who had worked with the blessings of Hindu nationalist Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.
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