As MS Dhoni led the Indian team out onto the field in Perth for a warm-up game on the tour of Australia, a court back home on Friday issued a non-bailable warrant against the Indian captain for a controversial magazine cover in which he is depicted as a Hindu god.
The court in Anantpur, Andhra Pradesh, has asked Dhoni to appear before it on February 25, failing which he would be arrested. In a 2013 edition of Business Today magazine, Dhoni had been portrayed on the cover as Lord Vishnu. He is seen holding his various product endorsements, with the headline below reading “God of Big Deals”.
Shyam Sunder, a Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader from the state, had filed a complaint against Dhoni and the magazine in a district court, claiming that they had hurt religious sentiments.
This is not the first time the cover has caused the cricketer trouble. In 2014, in relation to a similar case in Karnataka, Dhoni had earlier said that he had not posed for the cover or taken money for it.
On social media, Dhoni worshippers were out in full force to defend their hero, while others questioned the trivial nature of the matter.
Some also pointed to instances in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been depicted as a god, in particular in a Mumbai Mirror article published the day after the Bharatiya Janata Party victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.