A local court in Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh, has issued an arrest warrant against Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni after a complaint was lodged against him for allegedly hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus.
The arrest warrant was issued after Dhoni failed to appear before the court despite three summons served in the past. The court directed the police to present Dhoni before the court on July 16th.
The case refers to a picture on the cover of the magazine 'Business Today' in its April 2013 edition where it portrayed Dhoni as Hindu God Vishnu with the sub title 'God of Big Deals' holding products of several companies inculding a shoe in his hand.
Y Shyam Sunder, a local leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), filed a petition in the court in February this year saying that the cricketer had hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus by denigrating a Hindu God.
The court had issued summons against the representatives of the business magazine, Dhoni and others. Although the representative of the business magazine appeared before the court, neither Dhoni nor any lawyer on his behalf was present in court. The court then took up the matter on Tuesday, and issued an arrest warrant for the Indian skipper.
“The court issued the warrant of appearance as neither Dhoni nor anyone representing him appeared before it in connection with the complaint. It is not an arrest warrant... It is a warrant of appearance and is bailable,” said a senior police officer. Similar petitions against Dhoni were filed in Delhi, Pune and other cities.
Dhoni left for England along with the rest of the national cricket squad at the weekend for India's first five-Test series there in 55 years.
The captain is one of India's richest sportsmen and is a regular face in advertisements for products ranging from shoes to cement.