Film critic, Kathi Mahesh, banned from entering Hyderabad over comments on Ram and Sita

Hyderabad: Telangana police have banned film critic Kathi Mahesh from Hyderabad for six months for making inflammatory comments against Hindu deities Ram and Sita. They have moved him to the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh. Telangana’s Director General of Police M Mahender Reddy said he has banned Mahesh from entering the city for endangering the peace.

A police team on Monday handed him over to Andhra Pradesh police; he is a resident of Chittoor district. “If he comes to the city without permission, he may face three months’ imprisonment,” the DGP told a press conference, adding that if any body hurts the religious sentiments of any community, stern action will be taken against the person.

“For [now] he [has been] banned from entering the city. Whether the ban should be extended to entire state of Telangana will be considered later,” he said.

The move came on the day when a Hindu religious figure Swami Sampoornanda tried to organise a protest to demand action against Mahesh. But the police placed him under house arrest. Officers had tightened the security around his house in Jubilee Hills in view of his plan.

Kathi Mahesh has been in the eye of a storm ever since he made some inappropriate and controversial remarks against the deities during a panel discussion on a TV channel sparking strong protest from various quarters.

On receiving a complaint last week Mahesh was summoned to the police station for questioning and later released. Post the encounter, he continued to make controversial remarks on social media prompting the latest action.

Apart from banning Mahesh from the city for six months, authorities also issued a notice under Cable TV Regulation Act to the TV channel on which he made the remark. The channel management was asked why action should not be taken against it for endangering peace.

Telangana Director General of Police Reddy said, “The show cause notice has been issued to the TV9 for violating Television Networks Regulation Act by repeatedly telecasting the comments of Kathi Mahesh.”

DGP said that since the formation of Telangana, the state government was giving top priority to the maintenance of peace, law and order in Hyderabad. “That is why for the last four years the city has not seen any untoward incident”, he said.

Some people are trying to create rifts within various factions by making irresponsible statements, he said, adding that in the name of freedom of expression Mahesh was using TV channels as a platform to hurt the sentiments of the majority of the people.

“Any body can come to Hyderabad from anywhere in the world to work here. We have taken action against Kathi Mahesh to let the people know that if anybody indulges in anti-social activities police will not keep quiet”, he said. Three cases were booked against Kathi Mahesh, the DGP added.

Although many cases of hate speech have been booked against various religious and political leaders, this is the first time the police have gone to the extent of banning someone from the city.

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