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Man slaps cleric who made objectionable remarks on ‘Navratri’

ANAND (Gujarat): A man here on Wednesday slapped a Muslim cleric while he was being taken to a court after his arrest for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of a community by making objectionable comments about Navratri, police said.

"A man identified as Rakesh today slapped and pushed Imam Mehadi Hasan just outside the court when police were taking the imam to produce him before the judicial magistrate at Thasra in Kheda district," a police officer said. 

The man has been detained, he said. Hasan did not sustain any injury in the incident, police said. 

Later, principal civil judge PV Bhatt sent Hasan to 14 days' judicial custody as he stated that he would not hire an advocate to defend himself and also refused to seek bail.

A screenshot from the video showing a man slapping Mehdi Hasan. (Photo credit Twitter) 

Hasan, a Gujarat-based cleric, had shot into limelight when he offered a skull cap to then chief minister Narendra Modi during his 2011 Sadbhavna fast. 

The cleric had recently sparked controversy as he reportedly termed the state's most popular festival Navratri as a "festival of demons". 

On September 20, in an interview to a local newspaper, Hasan was quoted as saying that Navratri is a "festival of demons ..." 

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad had taken strong objection to Hasan's remarks and sought his arrest before the start of Navratri, which begins on Thursday. 

Based on the complaint filed by a VHP leader, the Gujarat police had arrested him on Tuesday from his residence in Rustampura village of Thasra taluka in Kheda and booked him under IPC section 295(A), which deals with deliberate act to outrage religious feelings of people by insulting their religion and beliefs. 

However, Hasan claimed his comments had been taken out of context.

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