A local court in Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh, has directed the police to register a criminal case against five ministers (of the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party) and five other persons on account of their association with a monthly journal that carried an allegedly blasphemous article in its May issue.
The ministers -- Naseemuddin Siddiqui, Swami Prasad Maurya, Babu Singh Kushwaha, Baddu Prasad and Paras Nath Maurya, figured in as 'patrons' of the Hindi monthly Ambedkar Today.
Among others who were to face the music were Paras Nath Maurya's son Rajeev Ratna, the chief editor and publisher of the journal and five other employees including the author of the article.
The article in question had reportedly 'condemned various Hindu rituals and flayed Hindus for following certain practices.'
Taking cognisance of an application moved in this regard by local activist Santram Singh, Bahraich chief judicial magistrate Surya Prakash Dwivedi directed the local police to lodge an FIR against the accused for 'hurting the religious sentiments of another community,' with the intent to vitiate the communal environment.
Santram Singh, the district president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, had initially raised the issue through a complaint to the police, which, however refused to act, following which he approached the CJM's court.
Interestingly, the journal is published from Jaunpur, where a similar complaint was filed, but found little favour with the authorities.
Meanwhile, in an obvious bid to dump the issue in the cold storage, the state government referred the matter to the Criminal Investigation Department.
It is believed that the purpose behind referring the matter to CID was also aimed at killing two birds with one stone-saving the skin of the ruling party men associated with the journal, while simultaneously giving the impression that the government had clearly disapproved of the idea of Bahujan Samaj Party activists attacking the Brahmanical order of the Hindu religion.
After all, BSP's rise to power in 2007 was attributed to active support of the Brahmin votes.
However, with the CJM of Bahraich taking cognizance of the petition, the government was now in a piquant situation.
Complainant Santram Singh has sought to point out how the magazine was being supported by the BSP government that had released advertisements worth lakhs to it.