Tushar Gandhi lodges police complaint against Sambhaji Bhide over insults to Mahatma Gandhi

I will not take any slander against my ancestors said the great grandson of Gandhi after lodging the complaint; Gandhi was accompanied by senior activists

Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, along with activists from Pune on

Thursday approached the Deccan Gymkhana police station seeking the registration of a criminal defamation case against right-wing activist, Manohar Kholkarni, self-named Sambhaji Bhide for his allegedly derogatory comments about Mahatma Gandhi’s lineage.

Kholkarni alias Bhide, who is the founder and head of the Sangli-based organisation Shri Shivpratishthan Hindustan, allegedly made objectionable remarks about Mahatma Gandhi in a speech delivered in Maharashtra’s Amravati district in the last week of July. An FIR was registered against Bhide in Amravati on July 29 based on a complaint filed by a group of social activists.

In a tweet on Thursday morning, Tushar Gandhi said he was on his way to Pune to file a criminal defamation complaint against Bhide at the Deccan Gymkhana police station. “Will not take slander against my ancestors without seeking legal redress,” the tweet said.

Speaking to various media outlets outside the police station after the complaint was submitted, Tushar Gandhi said, “My great-great-grandmother and my family are public figures. But we are a private family. This is like coming into my house and insulting my mother and that will not be tolerated. After this issue was raised in the Assembly, the deputy chief minister made a statement and assured that steps would be taken to punish the culprits. But it seems as if something is keeping his hands tied.”

Gandhi sought registration of a case under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 499 (defamation), 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief). Tushar Gandhi said that he was associated with the Maharashtra Gandhi Smarak Nidhi and was informed in detail about Bhide’s remarks by the trust. “We decided to file a complaint and use avenues open to a citizen,” he added.

Pune-based human rights activist and lawyer Asim Sarode said, “Tushar Gandhi along with activists from Pune, including Vishwambhar Chaudhari, Dr Kumar Saptarshi, Anwar Rajan and Sanket Munot, today approached the Deccan Gymkhana police station seeking registration of a criminal defamation case against Bhide for the extremely derogatory comments he made about Mahatma Gandhi. A case has been filed earlier regarding these comments. But here, we are seeking criminal defamation provisions which have not been invoked in earlier cases.”

When contacted, Senior Inspector Vipin Hasabnis, in charge of the Deccan Gymkhana police station, confirmed that Tushar Gandhi and others had lodged the complaint. “We will be seeking legal opinion in this regard from the law officer and based on that further course of action will be decided,” he said.

In addition to the criminal case registered in Amravati, two more cases have been registered against Bhide in the recent past—one in Navi Mumbai for his alleged remarks about Gautam Buddha and other social reformers and the other in Nashik for his comments about Mahatma Jyotiba Phule.

On August 7, the Navi Mumbai police registered an FIR against Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide following a complaint for his alleged derogatory comments against Gautam Buddha and social reformers Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Periyar Naicker.


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