Ruckus in Parliament over Bhagvad Gita ban in Russia
Parliamentarians across the political spectrum Monday asked the government to ensure that the religious rights of Hindus in Russia are protected after a member pointed out an IANS report about the Bhagvad Gita facing a ban and the prospect of it being branded as "extremist" literature there.
Angry MPs forced the adjournment of the Lok Sabha till 2 p.m. after Biju Janata Dal leader Bhartruhari Mahtab raised the issue in the house and asked the government to intervene immediately to ensure the religious freedom of Hindus in Russia.
He said a court in Siberia's Tomsk city was set to deliver its final verdict Monday in a case filed by state prosecutors, as was reported by IANS Saturday when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was on an official visit to Moscow.
"I want to know from the government what it is doing. The religious rights of Hindus in Russia should be protected. The government should impress upon the Russian authorities through diplomatic channels," he said.
The case, which has been going on in the Tomsk court since June, seeks a ban on a Russian translation of the "Bhagavad Gita As It Is" written by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
It also wants the Hindu religious text banned in Russia, declared as literature spreading "social discord", and its distribution on Russian soil rendered illegal.
Indians in Moscow, numbering about 15,000, and followers of the ISKCON religious movement in Russia have appealed to the Indian government to intervene diplomatically to resolve the issue in favour of the scripture, an important part of Indian epic Mahabharata written by sage Ved Vyas.
When Mahtab raised the issue, the lower house plunged into chaos, with MPs urging Speaker Meira Kumar to let them speak on the matter. She, however, refused and instead asked them to send notes and associate with Mahtab.
Lalu Prasad of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RLD) was heard shouting that the Hindu scripture does not preach extremism.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members were also seen rising from their seats to protest the issue before Meira Kumar adjourned the house till 2 p.m.