Catholic priest convicted of hate speech


A Catholic priest in Kanniyakumari was convicted of spreading hatred and enmity between religious groups and of making controversial statements against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister of the Interior Amit Shah.

Bro. George Ponniah, parish priest of Panavilai, sparked an argument by making derogatory remarks about ‘Bharat Mata‘and the Hindu religion. The Roman Catholic diocese of Kuzhithurai condemned his comments made last Sunday.

Addressing a meeting in Arumanai to protest against the closure of churches, the ban on praying in homes and the denial of permission to renovate or build churches on the ‘privatepatta‘lands, he made derogatory remarks about Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah.

He said Nagercoil BJP MLA MLA MR Gandhi was responsible for the Mandaikaadu communal riots in 1982. He said that the DMK’s victory in the assembly elections was “alms given by Christians and Muslims”.

His speech was condemned, among others, by the chairman of the State Minorities Commission, S. Peter Alphonse.

Acting on a complaint, including from the BJP, Arumanai Police sentenced him under Articles 153A (promotion of enmity between different religious, ethnic, etc.), 295A (willful and malicious acts intended to outrage the feelings of any class by insulting religion or religious beliefs), 505 (ii) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or malice between classes) and 506 (i) (criminal intimidation) of Indian Penal Code. He was also convicted under Articles 269 (act of negligence capable of spreading infection with a life-threatening disease) and 143 (unlawful assembly) of the IPC and Article 3 of the Law of epidemic diseases for organizing the meeting, in violation of the restrictions.

The BJP and some Hindu groups are preparing to demonstrate on July 28 to demand his arrest under the national security law.

Bro. Ponnaiah said his speech was distorted. “My speech was edited and posted on social media to show that I hurt the feelings of Hindu brothers and sisters. None of us on the platform said anything that hurt religious feelings, ”he said. “If my speech hurt anyone, I sincerely apologize.”

In a statement, Reverend Antony Pappusamy, Archbishop of Madurai and Apostolic Administrator of Kuzhithurai, said the diocese does not share Fr. The views of Ponnaiah. “His comments are reprehensible. The diocese has nothing to do with its Christian Democratic Forum, ”he said.

He said the diocese would never allow violence and speeches that ridicule others and hurt feelings.

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