Tamil Nadu: George Ponniah, a priest and consultant for the Kanniyakumari-based NGO Jananyaga Christhuva Peravai Amaipu, has apologised after his claimed inflammatory statements against Hinduism and beliefs sparked outrage on social media.
Ponniah is also said to have railed against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. Following this, Hindu organisations denounced his remarks and called for his arrest. Nearly 30 complaints were submitted in Kanniyakumari, with many more in other Tamil Nadu districts.
Meanwhile, Ponniah claims that a section of his speech from a meeting held to honour activist Stan Swamy was cut out and circulated on social media, giving it a community-slander tone.
‘By watching that edited video, many people have misconstrued that I spoke against Hindu religion and beliefs. I and the people who spoke at the meeting never said anything of that sort. If at all our speech had hurt the sentiments of my Hindu brothers and sisters, I wholeheartedly apologise for it. I would like to say to my loving Hindu brothers and sisters, that even in the future, I will never pass such comments,’ he said.
According to sources, a meeting was called by minority organisations in remembrance of Stan Swamy on July 18 in Arumanai town, Kanniyakumari district. George Ponniah, who spoke at the gathering, alleged that the Tamil Nadu minority welfare ministry and minority commission had denied minorities the right to hold prayer sessions.
Ponniah said he worked hard with several minority organisations to obtain DMK votes in the recent state elections, but the party seemed to disregard them once it came to power.
‘We campaigned in areas where politicians were not able to enter. We urged everyone to vote for DMK and said our miseries would be gone if DMK came to power, but within 60 days after this government assumed charge, we were made to protest for our rights. Before elections, they promised to safeguard our rights. The votes they [DMK] got are alms provided by the minority communities,’ he said.
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Ponniah criticised Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board Minister Sekar Babu, as well as IT Minister Mano Thangaraj, for acts he said, were in the Hindu community’s favour. With his remark on Bharat Mata, he also sparked a debate. ‘We wear slippers to make sure we don’t get our feet dirty and get any disease because of Bharat Mata.’ In the video, Ponniah was seen commenting on an MLA who avoided wearing slippers as a gesture of respect for Bharat Mata.
Arumanai police official speaking to the media stated that an FIR has been filed against George Ponniah under many sections of the IPC and that further investigation is underway.
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