Varun Gandhi charged for inciting community tensions

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Bharatiya Janata Party candidate for Pilibhit, Varun Gandhi, has been charged under the National Security Act (NSA) by the Uttar Pradesh government, with a possible sentence of one year's detention.

The charge may be the first time the NSA has been used to press a charge for hate speech.

"An order issued by Pilibhit district magistrate Ajay Chauhan invoking NSA on the BJP nominee this evening has been served to Gandhi, who is currently lodged in the district jail," Vijay Shanker Pandey, Additional Cabinet Secretary in Uttar Pradesh, told reporters.

Gandhi surrendered to the district court on Saturday, but his hopes of early bail were dashed by the NSA charge. In addition to charges related to his speeches on March 7th and 8th, he is also charged for his provocative speech outside the court before his surrender and for inciting his supporters to attack the police.

"Varun is talking about the welfare of Hindus and the RSS supports him totally," said Nempal, clad in the near-uniform of khaki shorts. "He is a rising star of Hindutva."

Varun's views are at odds with his Nehru-Gandhi family, although Sikh bodyguards did assassinate his grandmother, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.