Gandhi family scion arrested for hate speech given parole

Varun GandhiNew Delhi - India's Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the release of the grandson of the late prime minister Indira Gandhi on parole for two weeks to enable him to file his candidacy for general elections.

Varun Gandhi was arrested in late March in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh for allegedly making inflammatory anti-Muslim statements while campaigning for India's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The 29-year-old was booked under the National Security Act and was lodged in jail in Etah.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan ordered Gandhi's release, pending a final decision on his lawsuit challenging his arrest by the state government.

The bench dismissed stiff opposition by the Uttar Pradesh government when ordering Gandhi's temporary release but imposed strict conditions on the politician during his parole, such as not making speeches "likely to cause communal disturbance and hatred among any caste and community."

The order would allow Gandhi to register as a candidate from the Pilibhit constituency in the state and launch his campaign.

The Indian National Congress party, which leads India's federal coalition government and is headed by Sonia Gandhi, accused Varun Gandhi and the BJP of playing communal politics.

Varun Gandhi's mother, Maneka Gandhi, was married to Indira Gandhi's second son, Sanjay Gandhi. Sonia Gandhi, who was married to Indira's elder son, Rajiv, is his aunt. The two branches of the family are members of rival political parties.

The Congress party and the BJP lead the two main alliances fighting the five-phased, month-long general elections in India, which began Thursday. (dpa)

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