Christian groups in Maharashtra on Monday took umbrage at a 2013 calendar showing Jesus Christ holding a cigarette and a beer and urged the state government to initiate action.
Stating that their religious sentiments had been "insulted", Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) president Joseph Dias said, "This blasphemous picture has been printed in December and around 30,000 of these offensive copies have already been circulated in the market."
Tanaji D Lonkar, a former Shiv Sena municipal corporator, purportedly published a calendar with the "offensive" picture of Jesus Christ. Lawyers Vikram E Amolik and Pankaj K Bhandari have filed private criminal complaints regarding the calendar before a Pune court and the matter is expected to come up for hearing soon, Dias added.
However, Lonkar has sought to dissociate himself from the issue, saying the printer had downloaded the image from internet. Lonkar said he has withdrawn the calendar.
Pointing out to routine attacks on tribal Christians in Palghar region of Thane over the past few months, Dias added that local radical elements were leading these attacks but nothing has been done despite several complaints. "The government inaction has only created a feeling of insecurity among Christians," Dias said.
While threatening to launch an agitation unless the state government acted immediately and brought the culprits to book, Dias said, "When two girls posted on Facebook on late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's death, the government took immediate action as it was a political issue."
In another instance, a post on social networking website Facebook showing Mother Mary ordering Christ to "clean up" has angered the community. In the post, Mother Mary is depicted saying: "Jesus! Look at this mess! Clean up your room now!"
"When there were objections to the post, the author apologised, but in a very nasty manner using the 'F' word, which made it even worse," CSF president Dias added.