After facing criticism on social media, George Ponniah had apologized for his remarks but said that his speech was edited to give a communal color.
Roman Catholic priest George Ponniah was arrested in Madurai on Saturday for his comments allegedly against the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and the leaders of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam reported The Hindu, citing the police.
Several Hindu organizations had filed a complaint against the priest for making the comments at a protest meeting in Arumanai town in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari district on July 18.
“We wear slippers to make sure we don’t get our feet dirty and get any disease because of Bharat Mata [Mother India],” Ponniah had said, according to The Indian Express. The comments were in reference to an MLA who does not wear slippers as a gesture of respecting “Bharat Mata”, a personification of India.
The priest had also alleged that the Tamil Nadu minority welfare ministry and minority commission had been denying minorities from conducting prayer meetings.
“We urged everyone to vote for DMK [Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam] 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,” he had said, according to The Indian Express. “Before elections, they promised to safeguard our rights. The votes they got are alms provided by the minority communities.”
Ponniah had also criticised Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board Minister Sekar Babu and Information Technology Minister Mano Thangaraj among others. The meeting where Ponniah allegedly made the comments was convened to pay homage to activist Stan Swamy, who had died on July 5.
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