Kerala Janapaksham (Secular) leader and former legislator P.C. George, 72, stepped out of the Central prison on Friday after the High Court granted him bail in the Ananthapuri Hindu Mahasammelan hate speech case.
A large group of Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) workers greeted him outside the gate. They presented him with shawls and garlands. News television crews mobbed Mr. George for comments. However, he appeared taciturn and mindful of the bail condition set by the High Court.
Mr. George said he would abide by the law and uphold his political position. He left by car to his home in Irattupettah in Kottayam.
The Fort police had secured Mr. George’s custody on Wednesday in the hate speech case. The Magistrate had cancelled Mr. George’s bail for violating bail conditions.
The court found that the legislator, who had served five consecutive terms in the Assembly, repeated the allegedly “divisive trope” soon after being released on bail. The Magistrate viewed it as an infringement on the bond condition set by the court. He said the police could arrest Mr. George if required.
Subsequently, a Fort police team rushed to Kochi. They took custody of Mr. George after he appeared at the Palarivattom police station in connection with a similar hate speech case.
The case had sparked off a political storm. The ruling front and government had condemned Mr. George’s remarks. Congress also blamed the government for allegedly kowtowing to pro-Sangh Parivar elements by not opposing Mr. George’s bail initially.
BJP State president K. Surendran had portrayed Mr. George’s arrest as a Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] political gambit to appease fringe fundamentalist elements with an eye on the “20% fixed deposit” votes in the Thrikkakara Assembly segment, which is going to the polls on May 31.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Mr. George’s arrest and incarceration, even though for a day, was illustrative of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government’s resolve to crack down on attempts to divide society and provoke communal discord.
Meanwhile, a minor scuffle broke out between certain mediapersons and BJP workers in front of the Central Prison. Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) has condemned the alleged assault. BJP district secretary V.V. Rajesh promised to examine the accusation.