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‘Offending picture’ of Shiva, Kali; UP police registers FIR against The Week magazine; Economist Debroy quits as columnist

Uttar Pradesh Police has registered an FIR against The Week magazine amid a row over an “objectionable picture” of Lord Shiva and Goddess Kali that led Hindu activists to burn copies of the magazine. Following the controversies, economist Bibek Debroy quit his association with The Week.

The city’s Kotwali police registered the case against the editor and management of the magazine following a complaint Thursday by former BJP state vice-president Prakash Sharma, who accused them of hurting religious feelings.

Bajrang Dal workers burnt copies of the magazine at the city’s Bada Chauraha on Friday, seeking action against the editors of the magazine brought out in English by the Malayala Manorama group.

Bibek Debroy, who heads the Economic Advisory Council to Prime Minister, on Thursday ended his association with the publication as a columnist over the illustration tagged to his article “A tongue of fire” in the July 24 edition.

The magazine has apologised on its website.

This is the second controversy in recent weeks over the depiction of the goddess. Last month, Canada-based filmmaker Leena Manimekalai shared a poster of her documentary that showed a woman dressed as Kali smoking a cigarette.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) Pramod Kumar said a case under 295A of the Indian Penal Code has been registered in Kanpur. The section deals with “deliberate malicious acts” intended to outrage religious feelings.

The DCP said instructions have been issued to the investigation officer to probe the charges and take appropriate action.

BJP leader Prakash Sharma said the picture published by the magazine has outraged Hindu sentiments. The editor and others responsible for this objectionable act should be dealt with an iron hand, he told PTI.

Earlier, in his letter to The Week editor Philip Mathew, Debroy said he is ending his association with the magazine over the illustration that accompanied his column on Kali.

“The picture was deliberately chosen to titillate and provoke. At least, that’s the way I perceive it,” he said in the letter he also posted on Twitter.

The magazine has offered its “sincere apologies” for publishing the picture and replaced it with another on its website.

The illustration was taken from a photo agency which described it as an 1820 Kangra painting from Himachal Pradesh, it said. “We are genuinely sorry that it has hurt the sentiments of many of our readers and others.” It said there was an “unfortunate error of judgment on our part” in reproducing the illustration, adding that there was “no mischievous or malevolent intent”.

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