NEW DELHI: Two prominent education campuses of Delhi are simmering with protests again. This time they are united against the arrest of Ratan Lal, the assistant professor of the Hindu College. He was arrested on Friday for a derogatory social media post about the discovery of ‘Shivling’ inside the Gyanvapi Mosque complex in Varanasi.
Lal was produced before the Tis Hazari Court on Saturday and was granted bail on furnishing a bond of Rs 50,000.
However, the students and members of the teaching community refused to back down and continued their protest for the second day.
After their protest outside Maurice Nagar Police Station on Friday, members of the All India Students Association (AISA) held a demonstration outside the main gate of the Arts Faculty at Delhi University.
AISA members protesting at Delhi UniversityTalking to The New Indian, AISA working general secretary Prasenjeet Kumar said, “From Prof Ravi Kant and Hany Babu to GN Saibaba and now Ratan Lal, the ruling dispensation has always been scared of our teachers. This attack by the Police on our teacher Ratan Lal is a targeted attack on the movement for equal education. The students will fight tooth and nail to ensure the release of our professor.”
A former executive of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) Abha Dev Habib echoed the sentiments expressed by Prasenjeet.
“This assault on our freedom will not be tolerated by Delhi University. Delhi Police must release Ratan Lal immediately,” she firmly stated.
Teacher activist and public intellectual Laxman Yadav asserted, “This bogey of ‘hurt sentiment’ cannot dictate the law of India. The only law is the Constitution, not the agenda of the RSS!”
Uma Rag, a member of the Delhi Teachers Initiative, proclaimed that their commitment to liberal values has “scared the BJP”.
“We will not let RSS-fuelled intolerance take away the freedom of speech. Terrorizing Dalit voices on the campus will not be tolerated. This attack, trolling and the threat of violence to teachers like Ravi Kant in UP, Hany Babu, GN Saibaba and now Ratan Lal shows how precarious the ideological fantasies of the BJP are,” Anjali, a Master of Arts student, said.
“The hate-mongering in the name of Gyanvapi mosque will not be allowed by the people of India,” a history honours student thundered.
Despite the bail order, the protest continued and it moved from the North of Delhi to the South of Delhi with a march organised at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
Protest at JNU“We stand in solidarity with Professor Ratan Lal and condemn his arrest on the charge of blasphemy,” Aishe Ghosh, president of the JNU Student Union, told The New Indian.
“The FIR against Prof Lal was lodged by Delhi police as an aftermath of a Facebook post in which he rebutted the claims of ‘Shivling’ in Gyanvapi by the proponents of Hindutva. His staunch opposition to Brahminism and hate-mongering had earlier brought death threats and intimidations upon him. Despite his requests for protection, he was not provided with it. On the contrary, the state took to persecuting rational, and anti-fundamentalist voices,” she said.
“This punitive action against Prof Lal is characteristic of a Brahminical state. Brahminism, since its inception as a hegemonic ideology, has always violently suppressed its opponents. Anyone who challenges or derides its tenets is brutally subdued by the use of punishments including maiming, killing, and pouring liquid glass in the ears,” Ghose, who is also the Delhi state president of the Student Federation of India, said.
“The current instance of using state machinery and constitutional provisions to penalize critics is only a manifestation of the oppressive ideology, which reaffirms that the state continues to follow the traditions of the Brahminical order,” she averred.
“We stand resolutely with Professor Ratan Lal and pledge to continue our fight against right-wing orthodoxy and undemocratic attacks by the state,” Ghose added.
An FIR was lodged against Lal on Tuesday night based on a complaint filed by a Delhi-based lawyer advocate Vineet Jindal.
He was booked under Indian Penal Code Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 295A (deliberate act to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion).