New Delhi: The Delhi Police has questioned Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, the head priest of Dasna Devi temple, over a first information report (FIR) registered against him for allegedly making inflammatory comments on the Prophet and Islam during a press conference held in April 1, the Indian Express reported.
During the questioning, Saraswati admitted that the statements were made by him. However, he claimed people have misunderstood him and his intention was misinterpreted, a senior police officer told the daily.
A three-member team – assistant commissioner of police (ACP) (parliament street sub-division), station house officer (SHO) and investigating officer (IO) – questioned Saraswati through video-conferencing, which lasted for two and a half hours.
After the speech made by the chief priest abusing Prophet Muhammad went viral, Muslims in several areas of Delhi registered complaints against Narsinghanand in their respective police stations.
The Delhi Police had summoned the head priest in April, days after lodging an FIR against him under IPC sections 153A (promoting enmity) and 295A (acts intended to outrage religious feelings), in connection with the video that went viral on social media. The FIR was lodged at Parliament Street police station.
But he did not appear; therefore, the investigating officer was later asked to visit his house to question him, the report cited the senior police officer as saying.
Following this development, a senior ACP-rank officer was asked to conduct Saraswati’s questioning again.
The three-member team asked Saraswati how he booked the Press Club of India venue. He told them that a relative of one of his followers is a journalist, and he booked the PCI for him, the officer told Indian Express.
Police had initially planned to send the recorded video of the event to Forensic Science Laboratory, but decided not to after Saraswati admitted it was genuine, the report added.
The Wire has reported in the past that Saraswati had repeatedly made genocidal calls against Muslims in the run up to the Delhi riots of February 2020, which resulted in the deaths of more than 50 people.
The Hindutva leader was in news in March when he supported one of his followers who thrashed a 14-year-old Muslim boy for entering the Dasna Devi temple in Ghaziabad to drink water.