Kolkata: Police in Kolkata are investigating allegations that the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi was depicted as a demon at Durga Puja festivities. A festival structure that showed Hindu goddess Durga aiming her trident at a bald, bespectacled man holding a walking stick sparked the controversy.
A wig and moustache were added to the figure after it led to outrage. But in recent years, several Hindu hardliners have openly criticised him, accusing him of being too pro-Muslim and soft on Pakistan. The structure was put up during celebrations of Durga Puja.
It is the biggest festival in the eastern state of West Bengal - of which Kolkata is the capital - and elaborate stage decorations, known as "pandals", draw huge crowds. The organisers of the controversial pandal belonged to the All India Hindu Mahasabha, a right-wing group. Local media reported that visitors to the pandal had noticed the resemblance of the figurine to Gandhi.
Police officials then visited the site and asked the organisers to add a wig and moustache to the model. A leader of the All India Hindu Mahasabha said that they reluctantly made the changes because the police "forced us to do so".
"Our freedom of expression has been curtailed," Chandrachur Goswami said. He acknowledged that the demon figure had "physical similarities with Gandhi" and added that they did not consider him to be the 'father of the nation'.
Political parties in the state have strongly condemned the incident and that a Congress leader had filed a police complaint. "If such a move had been made, it is unfortunate. We condemn it," the Bharatiya Janata Party's state president told reporters.