Ramdev should be sent to jail: Dalit leaders
By Abu Zafar, India Tomorrow,
New Delhi, 26 April 2014: Though Yoga guru Ramdev apologized for his controversial comment on the Dalit community and Congress’ vice president Rahul Gandhi, the Dalit community and other civil rights activists continue demanding the arrest of Ramdev.
“Persons like Ramdev should be put behind bars. He says nonsensical things and I never expected such a vile statement from him,” noted Dalit rights activist Anil Pandey told India Tomorrow.
Addressing a gathering in Lucknow on Friday, Ramdev had said, "He (Rahul) goes to houses of Dalits for honeymoon and picnic... His mother told him that if he marries a foreigner, he won't become the PM. He does not want to marry an Indian girl. His mother wants him to first become PM and then marry a foreigner," NDTV reported.
Later on Saturday he felt sorry for the remark saying his statement was misrepresented.
"The statement I made has been misrepresented. The term ‘honeymoon period is over’ is commonly used in political language. I tried to use it in that sense," Times of India quoted Ramdev.
Meanwhile, an FIR has been lodged against him in Lucknow.
“In Lucknow, an FIR was lodged against Ramdev at Mahanagar police station under the relevant section of 171(g) (false statement in connection with an election) of IPC", Additional Superintendent of Police Habibul Hassan told PTI.
The FIR was lodged by the police after analysing the video footage of Ramdev's statement.
Ramdev is known for his support to the BJP.
Civil rights activist Lenin Raghuvanshi alleged Ramdev’s statement reflects the mindset of the whole BJP.
“Anti-Dalit and anti-women mindset of RSS and Ramdev are same and based on Manusmriti. I condemn this mindset of caste and patriarchy,” said Raghuvanshi who is also general secretary of People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights.
“If the intolerance towards Dalit and women is so high, then what is the situation of intolerance towards minorities?” Raghuvanshi asked.
Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook were also enraged over Ramdev’s comment.
“Shameful. An insult to Dalit women more than being a barb against Rahul Gandhi,” noted poet and writer Meena Kandasamy tweeted.
Gaurav Jaggi, a blogger and content writer in Kurukshetra also termed it shameful.
“Baba Ramdev has gone complete nuts. Shameful statements!” Jaggi wrote on his Facebook.
He also criticized BJP for defending Ramdev.
“BJP leaders very confidently defend him on the offensive remarks, which show they are ready to go to any extent to win in this election.”
“Why do they want to win so badly? So excited to develop India, or their own pockets?,” he asked.
But noted Dalit leader Udit Raj, who jointed BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha poll and contested election from North West Delhi, defended Ramdev and said the word honeymoon can be used in a wider connotation.
“Honeymoon word has a wider connotation. The context in which he has used, that needs to be understood,” Raj told India Tomorrow.
“Even political people have honeymooning. They honeymoon, I think it is being blown out of proportion,” he added.
Dalit organizations in Punjab’s Hoshiarpur town protested against Ramdev and burnt his effigy and some Delhi-based Dalit organizations call for a protest at Jantar Manter on Sunday and started an online petition against Ramdev.
Meanwhile Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati also demanded the arrest of Ramdev.
“I demand the Chief Election Commissioner and even SP that a case should be lodged against this yoga leader of BJP under the laws framed to check harassment of women and under the Dalit Act and he must be send to jail, which is his right place,” PTI quoted Mayawati.
Congress leader and Finance Minister P Chidambaram also termed it as shameful.
“It is a shameful and despicable statement. I am ashamed that somebody can make a statement like this and still a political party can embrace it,” Chidambaram was quoted by PTI.