An Indian comic actor has been arrested after he imitated the hugely popular but controversial leader of a religious sect.

The Press Trust of India news agency said Kiku Sharda appeared before a magistrate in the northern state of Haryana on Wednesday. He was accused of hurting religious sensibilities, which can be penalized by up to three years' imprisonment.

Sharda had imitated Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the flamboyant leader of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, during a television appearance in December. He has apologized for hurting the feelings of the sect's followers.

The religious leader has starred in several self-made music videos and regularly performs at rock concerts for his followers. However, he faces allegations of rape and murder and accusations that he ordered hundreds of followers to be castrated.