Five people were arrested on Monday for burning copies of extracts from the Ramcharitmanas in the Vrindavan area here, police said.

Earlier, police said it has named 10 people, including Samajwadi Party leader Swami Prasad Maurya, in an FIR after an OBC group burnt copies of extracts from the Hindu epic.

The Akhil Bharatiya OBC Mahasabha organised a protest in the Vrindavan scheme sector here on Sunday, apparently in solidarity with Maurya, who had on January 22 claimed that the epic contained passages discriminatory of women and backward castes.

The group claimed that its members only burnt photocopies of pages allegedly carrying “objectionable comments on women and Dalits” in the Ramcharitmanas.

The case was registered at PGI police station here based on a complaint by Satnam Singh Lavi, who alleged that the act of burning the copies of the ‘Ramcharitmanas’ poses a threat to peace, police officials said.

The FIR was registered under IPC sections 142 (unlawful assembly), 143, 153A (wanton vilification or attacks upon the religion, race, place of birth, residence etc), 295 (injuring on defiling place of worship), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings), and 298 (uttering words with deliberate intention to wound religious feelings) among others, they said.

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Besides Maurya, those named in the FIR are Devendra Pratap Yadav, Yashpal Singh Lodhi, Satyendra Kushwaha, Mahendra Pratap Yadav, Sujit Yadav, Naresh Singh, S S Yadav, Santosh Verma and Mohd Saleem. The FIR also mentions unidentified people, referred to as “others”.

Among the accused, five of them — Satyendra Kushwaha, Yashpal Singh Lodhi, Devendra Pratap Yadav, Suresh Singh and Mohd Saleem — have been arrested, police said.

Akhil Bharatiya OBC Mahasabha office bearer Devendra Pratap Yadav said, “It is incorrect to say, as reported in a section of the media, that we burnt copies of the Ramcharitmanas. We took out photocopies of the objectionable comments from the Ramcharitmanas that were against ‘shudras’ and women, and burned them in a symbolic protest.”

Ramcharitmanas, an epic poem in Awadhi language, is based on the Ramayana and has been composed by 16th century Bhakti movement poet Tulsidas.

Maurya, a prominent OBC leader in Uttar Pradesh, had kicked up a controversy by alleging that certain verses of the Ramcharitmanas “insult” a large section of society on the basis of caste and demanded that these be “banned.”

Maurya, who was a cabinet minister in the BJP government, had resigned and joined the Samajwadi Party before the 2022 UP assembly polls.

On January 24, an FIR was registered against Maurya at Hazratganj police station over his controversial remarks on the Ramcharitmanas, police said.

The case was registered following a complaint by Shivendra Mishra, a resident of Aishbagh locality in Bazar Khala area of Lucknow.

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