Kalicharan Maharaj arrested for insulting Mahatma Gandhi at 'Dharma Sansad'
Religious leader Kalicharan Maharaj was arrested from Madhya Pradesh's Khajuraho on Thursday morning by the Chhattisgarh Police over his remarks against Mahatma Gandhi. He will be brought to Chhattisgarh via road by Thursday evening, an official told The Indian Express. The police reportedly apprehended him from a rented accommodation near Bageshwar Dham, which lies 25 kilometers away from Khajuraho.
Kalicharan was arrested after he had used some abusive words against Mahatma Gandhi at a 'Dharma Sansad' event in Chhattisgarh's Raipur on December 26. He had also praised Gandhi's assassin, Nathuram Godse. He had urged people to elect a "staunch Hindu leader" to "protect" Hinduism. Two FIRs—one in Raipur and another in Maharashtra's Akola—have been lodged against him over his remarks.
After the FIR was registered in Raipur, Kalicharan reportedly left Chhattisgarh to evade arrest. Following this, three different teams of Raipur Police were sent in search of Kalicharan to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Delhi.
Confirming the arrest, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said Kalicharan would be presented before a court within 24 hours. Kalicharan's family and lawyer have been informed about his arrest, Baghel added. Taking a dig at Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Nirottam Mishra, Baghel said he should tell whether "he is happy or sad about the arrest of the person who derogated Mahatma Gandhi?"
Kalicharan (aka Abhijit Sarag) hails from Maharashtra's Akola district. Although no accurate information is available about his educational qualifications, BBC India reported that he has studied till Class VIII. In his youth, he went to MP's Indore and started practicing religious rituals. He claims to have changed his name to Kalicharan after Goddess Kali appeared to him and saved him from an accident.
Kalicharan came into the limelight in 2020 after a video of his hymn on Shiv Tandav went viral on social media. In the video, he can be seen reciting Shiv Tandav Stotram.
Kalicharan had also sparked controversies earlier due to his statements on COVID-19. He had called the World Health Organization and its experts, frauds, alleging that the world body is intimidating people by colluding with vaccine companies to increase sales. He also raised suspicion on authorities for not handing over the bodies of COVID-19 patients to families.
Reportedly, Kalicharan left Bhaiyyuji Maharaj's ashram in Indore in 2017 and returned to Akola in 2017. After his return, he had contested the 2017 Akola municipal elections but faced a defeat.