New Delhi, Dec 19 (IANS): Parliamentarians across the political spectrum on Monday created a ruckus and asked the government to ensure religious rights of Hindus in Russia are protected after a member pointed out an IANS report that the Bhagvad Gita was facing the prospect of being branded as "extremist" literature and banned there.
Angry MPs forced two disruptions of the Lok Sabha after Biju Janata Dal leader Bhartruhari Mahtab raised the issue during Zero Hour in the house and asked the government to intervene immediately to ensure the religious freedom of Hindus in Russia.
Earlier, the House was adjourned till 2 pm and then till 4 pm when MPs reassembled and the din continued, forcing the second disruption.
Mahtab 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, asserting that the Hindu holy book "doesn't preach hatred".
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 AC 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. "Any move to insult Lord Krishna won't be tolerated," Lalu Prasad said.
Members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Shiv Sena, Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party and some Congress MPs also protested in the house, seeking an immediate intervention of the government.