An arrest warrant has reportedly been issued against MS Dhoni, the captain of India’s cricket team, after he posed as the Hindu god Vishnu on the cover of a magazine in 2013.
The cover is almost three years old and depicts the batsman as the God holding various commodities which present his wide-ranging endorsements and business deals. The headline reads: 'God Of Big Deals'.
The warrant was issued by a court in Anatapur, Andhara Pradesh, according to the Hindustan Times. It was reportedly issued over allegations the cricketer hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus.
Reportedly, magistrates summoned Dhoni and the magazine’s editor Chaitanya Kalbag to court but having allegedly not shown up, he was issued with a non-bailable arrest warrant.
However Dhoni’s manager disputes this, saying the 34-year-old “was never served with summons”.
The petition in court was filed by a Vishwa Hindu Parishad on Monday. According to The Hindu, Yerraguntla Shyam Sundar filed it arguing that the editor and Dhoni “deliberately and with malicious intent outraged the feeling of Hindus at large”.
Gopal Rao, the representative of Mr Sundar told the paper: “While it is unknown if Kalbag received the summons, an acknowledgement was received from Dhoni. Since he did not appear before the court even after summoned, the court took a serious view and issued non-bailable arrest warrant for Dhoni.”
Dhoni’s lawyer reportedly told Press Trust India that the arrest warrant was “erroneous”.
“Mahendra Singh Dhoni has utmost respect for the judiciary but the fact of the matter is that he has personally never received any summons with respect to the present case; therefore, the order appears to be erroneous,” the statement said.
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In 2014, the Supreme Court stayed criminal proceedings against Dhoni in relation to the cover.
The batsman is the current captain of the national team, a post he has held since 2007. Widely considered the most successful India captain ever, he retired from Test cricket in 2014 but continues to play for his country in one-day and T20 matches. In 2011 he was listed on the TIME 100 most influential people.
The Independent has contacted a representative for Dhoni, who is currently in Australia for a limited over series, for comment.
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