Congress takes on Parrikar, backs Catholic priest

Panaji, May 29: The Congress on Thursday attacked Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar for accusing a Gujarat-based Catholic priest of spreading religious intolerance.

A party official also filed a police complaint against Sri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik for a hate-speech made some months back.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, party spokesperson Durgadas Kamat said the chief minister's attack on Fr. Cedric Prakash at a media-briefing Wednesday smacked of a bias against the minority Catholic community in Goa.

"Parrikar has only shown the communal side of the BJP by accusing Fr. Prakash of spreading religious intolerance. The Congress challenges the minority BJP MLAs to come clean on whether they share the chief minister's views on Fr. Prakash," Kamat said.

Ahmedabad-based Prakash, a Jesuit priest, made a whirlwind pre-election tour of Goa with the support of the Roman Catholic Church in Goa, during which he accused Narendra Modi of religious intolerance and attacked the Gujarat model of governance.

He had further alleged that in Gujarat, every one lived in fear.

Parrikar had Wednesday accused Prakash of lying, mixing religion with politics and had even compared him to Muthalik, whose organisation has been involved in attacks on pubs in Mangalore.

Muthalik himself has been caught on camera exhorting Hindus to arm themselves with swords, in a hate speech delivered in Goa some months back.

"How can Fr. Prakash be compared to Muthalik? He has never attacked a pub or asked people to carry swords," Kamat said, even as the Congress filed a complaint against the Sri Rama Sene chief.

The complaint accuses Muthalik of giving a hate speech and a Hindu right wing organisation for uploading it on video-sharing site Youtube.

"The chief minister has justified filing of an FIR on Devu Chodankar for posting anti-Modi comments on Facebook, claiming it was as per a Supreme Court direction. Now let us see if the Goa government files an FIR against Muthalik and summons him for interrogation," Kamat said.

The First Information Report against Chodankar and the alleged police "witch-hunt" against him has been the top news story in Goa for the last one week, with Opposition as well as civil society accusing the government of targeting free speech on social media.


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