Madurai, May 16, 2019 : Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan on Wednesday said he only spoke a ’historic truth’ after his remark that free India’s first extremist was a Hindu, a reference to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse, triggered a huge controversy. Haasan moved an anticipatory bail petition before the Madras High Court bench here after it refused to entertain his earlier petition, seeking quashing of an FIR against him, Zeenews reported.
The FIR against Haasan, founder of new political outfit Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), was registered by Aravakurichi police on Tuesday under Sections 153A and 295A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which deal with ’outraging religious feelings’ and ’promoting enmity between different groups’ respectively.
The MNM also filed complaints with police in Chennai and Tiruchirappalli against Milk and Dairy Development Minister KT Rajendira Bhalaji, who said Haasan’s tongue should be cut off for saying that free India’s "first extremist was a Hindu". The party also claimed that Haasan’s comments had been taken "completely out of context".
In his first response after the remarks that landed him in trouble with court and police cases, Haasan asked his detractors to make "valid allegations", asking if he could cater to only one section of people after entering active politics. "They got angry for what I spoke at Aravakurichi. What I spoke (there) is a historic truth. I did not lure anyone to a brawl," he said during a by-poll campaign at Tirupurankundram near Madurai. He said truth would triumph like the "historic truth I mentioned" and not caste and religion.
"Understand the meaning for the word extremist. I could have used the word terrorist or murderer (against Godse)... ours is active politics, there won’t be any violence," he said while resorting to wordplay in Tamil to drive home his point. The MNM leader alleged that his speech was edited selectively and took a dig at his detractors, saying the charges levelled against him "apply to my media friends also." He asked if his critics could show instances of his remarks that could incite violence and said the accusations against him had hurt him.
"They are saying I hurt Hindu sentiments. There are so many Hindus in my family. My daughter is a believer," he said but did not specify as he has two daughters. Haasan said many others in his family were Hindus and wondered why he would make remarks that could hurt them. He suggested that rather than tolerance towards each other, there should be a concept of co-existence.
"Will you tolerate or accept another faith...Co-existence is the need. You can tolerate headache, but have to accept younger brother," he said in a veiled reference to minorities. "To insult me, don’t harp on my ideology, you will lose. Because honesty is the basis of my ideology which you don’t have. "You have made lies your basis and building a castle upon that... You may be anywhere, whether, in Delhi or Chennai, you can’t fool people for long by saying lies," he said without mentioning anyone.
Meanwhile, police detained a group of people who tried to barge into Haasan’s public meeting at Tirupurankundram and raised slogans. There was no immediate information if they belonged to any particular political outfit. Haasan, whose MNM roughly translates into English as ’People’s Justice Centre’, said he would always serve all sections of society, irrespective of their caste, creed or race. "Otherwise what justice can people get?" he asked.
Stoking a controversy, Haasan had said that "free India’s first extremist was a Hindu". "I am not saying this because this is a Muslim dominated area, but I am saying this before a statue of Gandhi. Free India’s first extremist was a Hindu, his name is Nathuram Godse. There it (extremism) starts," he had said in bypoll bound Aravakurichi.
Meanwhile, MNM Vice President R Mahendran said his party chief’s Aravakurichi speech "has been taken completely out of context with a malafide intent and view to promote enmity among people and for the ulterior benefits of such groups." This was done at the "behest of certain political groups," he alleged in a statement. "In the speech, Kamal Haasan was calling for religious tolerance and co-existence amongst all religious groups and condemned extremism in whichever form and religion.
"This has been taken absolutely out of context and the speech has been painted as anti-Hindu, with a malafide intent. This has created complete confusion and utmost anxiety amongst many common citizens who are not privy to this larger conspiracy," Mahendran added. Justice B Pugalendhi of the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court said pleas for quashing the FIR against Haasan cannot be taken up as emergent petitions during the vacation. However, the judge said if an anticipatory bail application was filed, then it could be taken up for hearing.
Haasan later moved the anticipatory bail plea, saying his speech was about Godse only and not about Hindus as a whole. In his plea, he said the offence quoted in the First Information Report under Sections 153(A) and 295(A) of the Indian Penal Code required procedural safety under CrPC and the same had been overlooked.
In another development, the Delhi High Court declined to entertain the PIL for action against Haasan’s remark and seeking directions to the Election Commission to "restrict" misuse of religion for poll gains. Keeping up the heat on Haasan, the BJP said it was not a subject to be spoken on at a public meeting and asked who emboldened him to rake up Mahatma Gandhi’s killing years after it happened.
BJP state unit president Tamilisai Soundararajan took a swipe, apparently at the Congress, for supporting Haasan on the matter, saying those who lost their leader to extremism were now backing the actor on his controversial statement. Meanwhile, a Vaishnavite saint hit out at Haasan for his remarks and threatened to hold protests if he continued to make such remarks.
Chendalankara Sampath Kumara Ramanuja Jeeyar of Mannargudi asked if Haasan was hobnobbing with banned Islamist outfits and therefore making such remarks against Hindus. "He is saying such things for his own benefit. He is a good actor and is now acting in public. All Hindus are against him and if he repeats such statements, his free movement will be hindered. We will hold protests against him," he told reporters in Tiruchirappalli.