Hyderabad: A spiritual leader was today placed under house arrest here ahead of his proposed 40 km 'Dharmagraha Yatra' (padayatra) from Boduppal to Yadadri, police said. The head of the Kakinada Sri Peetham, Swami Paripoornananda, who was to lead the march against those making 'anti-Hindu' statements, was prevented from coming out of his house to take out the yatra for which police had denied permission, they said.

Following this, a large number of followers of the swami and members of different Hindu organisations gathered near his house, police said. Paripoornananda had recently demanded arrest of Telugu actor and film critic Kathi Mahesh over his alleged statements against Hindu deities and said the actor had 'hurt' the sentiments of Hindus, they said.

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Permission for holding agitations against the actor's statements was not given in any part of the state, they added. "Only Paripoornananda has been placed under house arrest," Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police M Venkateshwarlu told PTI.

He said around 20 members of different organisations were taken into preventive custody when they tried to hold a protest over the issue. The Swami was to undertake the padayatra in protest against recent statements and campaigns in social media and electronic media allegedly against Hindu deities.

He had demanded that government bring in a legislation immediately facilitating "severe punishment to mischievous elements whoever decry and defame the gods and goddesses of any religion through any media or in any other form." Instead of responding to this demand, Telangana government, having given formal permission to the padyatra, resorted to house-arrest on the grounds that "some anti-social elements are likely to cause law and order problem during the padayatra," organisers alleged.

Condemning the house arrest, BJP's state unit president K Laxman said in a release that undertaking protest demonstrations and foot marches is a right provided by the Constitution. "The religious leaders had to take to the streets because the state government has not allegedly taken a tough stance on anti-Hindu comments," he said. Laxman demanded his unconditional release from house arrest. (PTI)