A Catholic priest in Tamil Nadu’s Kanniyakumari district was arrested July 24 for spreading hate and enmity between religious groups. Father George Ponnaiah, parish priest from Panavilai, triggered a row by allegedly making disparaging remarks about ‘Bharat Mata’ and Hindu religion. The Kuzhithurai diocese condemned his comments made on July 18.
Addressing a meeting at Arumanai in protest against the closure of churches, the ban on conducting prayers in houses and the denial of permission for renovating or constructing churches on private ‘patta’ lands, he alleg-ed remarked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
According to Father Ponnaiah, M.R. Gandhi, a Bharatiya Janata Party legislator from Nagercoil, was responsible for the Mandaikaadu communal riots in 1982. He said the DMK’s victory in the assembly election was the “alms given by the Christians and the Muslims.”
His speech was condemned, among others, by State Minorities Commission chairman S Peter Alphonse.