IMPHAL, Oct 6: A 60-year old man who is in police custody for allegedly chanting "Hare Krishna, Hare Rama, Shan-na-mahoure" (beef is the best) repeatedly in front of devotees of Krishna was served prasadam (spiritualised food) Saturday by a devotee in police custody even as he was accused of blaspheming Lord Krishna.
Last Thursday (October 4) devotees from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) who were running a mobile shop selling books and other items faced an old man blaspheming Lord Krishna by announcing in front of them "Hare Krishna, Hare Rama, Shan-na-mahoure" five times. This drew the devotees` ire and a heated argument resulted between the old man and the devotees.
Following the argument two persons who came with the old man assaulted one of the devotees named Braja Bhakta Das, 28 years, spiritual student of Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami of ISKCON, Manipur. The incident occurred at around 3.50 pm at Rup Mahal Tank in the heart of Imphal city. Though the devotee was not physically injured his clothing was torn in the assault.
The Imphal city police registered a case under section 295-A on a complaint lodged by the victim, Braja Bhakta Das and arrested 60-year old Kangjam Joykumar of Noaremthong Loukrakpam Leikai. However, two of his associates hailing from Wangkhei who were involved in the assault are still at large.
Police picked up Joykumar on Friday and got him remanded to police custody till Monday (four days) under Section 295-A of the IPC after producing him before a local court.
Section 295-A of the IPC deals with deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious belief. Under this section, an offence can be punished with imprisonment of three years or fine of Rs. 1000 or both.
295-A of IPC states that whoever, with deliberate or malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class (citizen of India) by words, either spoken or written or by signs or visible representation or otherwise, insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years or with fine or with both.
"We have taken remand of the man from the court yesterday and are investigating the case further for appropriate action against the accused. Two of his associates are yet to be rounded up," a police officer in the city police said.
Interestingly, the accused who is in police custody was served food (`prasadam` according to devotees) today by a devotee of ISKCON named Ajit Das at the police station. The family of the accused person has not, however, turned up or supplied food from home till date to the accused, a source at the police station said.
According to Ajit Das they had served prasadam to the accused as he had committed the wrong unknowingly. "Man does not know what is right or wrong while committing a crime. He comes to realise only after performing the act. My religion teaches this," he said.
"We are trying to settle the thing peacefully and we don`t want anyone punished. Instead we want to make them understand that there is no difference between all religions. All are same," he went on to observe.
He also believed that the other two persons who are at large will surrender to them and "we will draw them on the right path".
On the other hand, police said they were making the best efforts to award appropriate punishment to the offender according to the law of the land. The city police said they took the matter seriously as it hurt the sentiments of the particular religion.