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Punjab cops pick up producer over sitcom's joke on Valmiki Samaj

Ashwini Veersingh Dheer, the producer of Lapataganj, which airs on Sab TV, was arrested from Film City and will be produced in a Punjab court over the next two days

The cast and crew of the popular Indian sitcom Lapataganj had a sobering encounter with reality yesterday, when the show’s producer was picked up by the Punjab police in Film City, Goregaon.

Punjab police picked up Dheer (extreme right) while he was shooting was another TV show at Film City in Goregaon yesterday
Punjab police picked up Dheer (extreme right) while he was shooting was another TV show at Film City in Goregaon yesterday

The producer, Ashwini Veersingh Dheer, and several other members of the cast, had been accused of offending members of the Valmiki Samaj by cracking jokes about their God in one of the episodes of the show. Dheer was produced in Bandra court and given a two-day transit remand, so police officials can take him to Punjab.

According to officials from Ludhiana police station, the case was registered against nine people involved with the sitcom, under Section 295 of the IPC (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult religion or class), at Ludhiana police station in Punjab. The sitcom has not been pulled off the television channel.

Inspector Sukhwinder Singh of Ludhiana police station told mid-day at Bandra court, “Two years ago, a humorous comment was made in the sitcom about the God worshipped by members of the Valmiki Samaj. After this, a representative of the Valmiki Samaj approached us and registered a case against the producer, writer and some members of the cast. Other people are still wanted in the case.”

Inspector Singh added, “We have come to Mumbai thrice in the past to arrest Dheer, but failed to nab him. This time, we had proper information on his whereabouts. In the morning, we received a tip-off that Dheer was working on a different television show inside Film City. We first went to the Aarey police for help, as it is a local police station. They sent their officials to accompany us. We arrested him there.”

Later in the day, Dheer was produced in the Bandra holiday court, which ordered him to transit remand of two days. The Ludhiana police will now produce Dheer in a Punjab court. Singh added, “We will produce him in CGM court and once he is in custody, further investigations will be conducted.”

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