Goa Catholic priest booked over remark on Shivajitext_fields
Panaji: A Goan Catholic priest was on Friday booked for hurting religious sentiments by making a remark on Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj during a sermon.
Father Bolmax Pereira was charged under provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) after a video of him went viral recently in which he said “Chhatrapati Shivaji cannot be considered as a God”.
Officials said that the case has been lodged at Vasco police station, though complaints were received in other police stations as well, including Cuncolim and Canacona in south Goa.
Earlier, Pereira had tendered an apology, adding that his statement on the 17th-century king was taken “out of context and misinterpreted”.
On Thursday late evening, Pereira issued a statement in which he expressed regret over the controversy surrounding his remark and the “misunderstanding” that arose due to the mention of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
“The purpose and intent of making a mention of the great national hero and valiant warrior during the sermon was to tell devotees and viewers that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was revered by people across the country and abroad cutting across religions, castes, creed, languages,” he said in a statement.
“Hence, attributing him (Shivaji Maharaj) to only one religion would reduce his stature and greatness among the people of other faiths,” he said.
The priest said that he was shocked to learn that his sermon was “selectively taken out of context” to show only one part of the statement while the other parts praising Shivaji Maharaj’s valour and heroism as he protected his people and kingdom and stood against invaders, was “maliciously omitted”. He said he believed that the omission of the part of his remarks was aimed at inciting anger and creating enmity between communities.
“If any individual or organization has been hurt due to this episode and misunderstanding, I express my deepest regret and hope and pray that the long-lasting bond between communities that have existed for centuries is maintained and grows stronger,” Fr Pereira said.
Despite his apology, the Bajrang Dal sought his arrest and several hundred Bajrang Dal workers marched to Vasco police station on Friday evening demanding his arrest.
“An FIR should be filed against the priest for hurting our religious sentiments. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is no less than God for us,” Bajrang Dal Goa co-convener Viraj Desai had said.
The agitation by Bajrang Dal workers continued despite an assurance that an FIR will be lodged, Vasco police station inspector Kapil Naik said.
Action will be taken against the priest as per law, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant told reporters, adding that the situation in Vasco was under control with the superintendent of police and other officials at the site.
While CM Sawant mentioned Pereira’s statement, Goa Forward Party MLA Vijai Sardesai said that the matter should rest since the priest had tendered an apology.
With inputs from PTI