South Asia

Indian fury over Australia swimwear images of Laxmi

Members of hardline Hindu groups protest against the swim wear in Delhi
Image caption Photos of the models have caused outrage among some Indian groups

Images of the Hindu goddess of wealth displayed on swimwear at an Australian fashion show have sparked a legal battle in India.

The Allahabad High Court has issued notices to the Hindustan Times group for publishing the photos that show female models wearing the swimwear.

Images of the goddess, Laxmi, were displayed on the garments.

The fashion show attracted worldwide media attention and was held in the Australian city of Sydney last week.

Pictures of the controversial swimwear were published in many newspapers, leading to protests in towns and cities across India.

Protesters belonging to radical Hindu groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal took to the streets of Delhi on Monday, shouting slogans against the Australian government and swimwear designer Lisa Blue.

Protester Jai Bhagwan Goyal told the Reuters news agency that those who organised the Australian event should be arrested.

"The sentiments of billions of Hindus have been hurt and this issue will not get resolved by presenting an apology. We feel this is a deliberate act to get cheap publicity."

Company's apology

The court on Tuesday issued notices to the Press Council of India and the state and central governments requiring them to explain their position over the issue.

Image caption Protests have been held all over India

It said that the Indian government should convey to the Australian government how the swimwear display had offended the feelings of the Hindu community.

Last week one of those petitioning the court wrote a letter complaining about the publication of the photos in newspapers.

The letter demanded action against the publisher of the newspaper and Ms Blue.

Lawyers have argued that the newspapers should not have published such offending photos and the Indian government should urge the Australian government to take action against Ms Blue.

The BBC's Ram Dutt Tripathi in Lucknow says that the matter will be addressed again in the courts within six weeks.

In the meantime some newspapers have published a statement by Ms Blue saying the production and sale of the swimwear had been stopped.

The company has apologised for hurting the feelings of the Hindu community.

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