Assam man arrested for dressing up as Hindu deity Shiva at street performance

A man who dressed up as the Hindu deity Shiva during a play in Nagaon district, Assam, has been arrested for allegedly offending religious feelings, ANI reported on Sunday.

On Saturday, Birinchi Bora starred in a scripted play to protest against rising prices under the central government led by Narendra Modi. While Bora played the role of Shiva, his co-actor Parishimita dressed up as Parvati, the consort of the Hindu deity, NDTV reported.

Videos of their performance were widely shared on social media. The actors were seen riding a two-wheeler, which comes to an abrupt stop after running out of fuel.

An argument ensues between the couple, Shiva and Parvati, over the situation. Shiva then begins to criticize the Center over rising fuel prices, unemployment and other real problems in the country, according to NDTV.

Borah also reportedly called on the public to stage protests against rising prices.

Members of Hindutva groups, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal, opposed the street performance and filed complaints. They accused the actors of abusing religion for political purposes.

“If you want to protest, sit down and do it,” said Bharatiya Janata Party member Raja Pareek. “We do not support their act of dressing up as deities.”

Bora was taken to Nagaon Sadar police station on Sunday, NDTV reported.

“Two other people suspected of being involved have not yet been apprehended,” said Nagaon Sadar Police Station chief Manoj Rajvanshi, ANI reported.

The actors have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act, said Nagaon Police Superintendent Leena Doley, the Hindustan time reported.

“But since all the sections under which it [Bora] was charged are on bail, he was released on Sunday,” Doley added. “We are looking for the actress who accompanied Bora.”

Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma wrote in a tweet on Sunday afternoon that street games on “current issues” are not blasphemous. “Dressing up is not a crime unless offensive material is said,” he tweeted. “The appropriate order has been given to Nagaon police.”

In April, retail inflation in India soared to 7.79%, the highest in eight years. A month earlier, in March, it was at 6.95%, its highest level in 17 months. The price inflation indicator fell to 7.04% in May due to lower food prices.

Fuel prices have been one of the major contributors to rising inflation levels in India. In May, the Union government reduced excise duties on petrol and diesel by Rs 8 per liter and Rs 6 per liter respectively in a bid to control inflation.

On Saturday, Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das said inflation in India may improve in the second half of this fiscal year.

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