In yet another instance of ‘zero tolerance’ of any kind or degree of ‘dissent’ in the country, Ratan Lal, associate professor at Delhi University’s Hindu College was arrested on Friday night for his ‘objectionable’ social media post referring to claims about a ‘Shivling’ found inside Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque complex, police said.
They said Lal was arrested under Indian Penal Code sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on 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) by the Cyber Police Station, North.
An FIR was lodged against Lal on Tuesday night based on a complaint filed by a Delhi-based lawyer. In his complaint, advocate Vineet Jindal said Lal had recently shared a “derogatory, inciting and provocating (sic) tweet on the Shivling”.
The statement made by Lal on his Twitter account is “instigating and provoking”, he said in the complaint.
The statement was made in the context of a ‘Shivling’ found in the Gyanvapi mosque complex, which is very sensitive in nature and the matter is pending before the court, the lawyer said in his complaint.
Defending his post earlier, Lal had said: “In India, if you speak about anything, someone or the other’s sentiment will be hurt. So this is nothing new. I am a historian and have made several observations. As I wrote them down, I have used very guarded language in my post and still this. I will defend myself.”
Meanwhile, the Allahabad High Court on Friday adjourned the hearing on the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque issue till July 6.
After hearing a lengthy petition filed by the Anjuman Intazamiya Masjid of Varanasi and other connected matters, Justice Prakash Padia adjourned the hearing of the case till July 6.
The original suit was filed in the Varanasi district court in 1991, seeking restoration of an ancient temple at the site where the Gyanvapi mosque currently stands.
On April 8, 2021, the Varanasi court of the civil judge (senior division) had ordered a five-member committee comprising two Hindu members, two Muslim members and an archaeological expert, to oversee a “comprehensive physical survey” of the centuries-old Gyanvapi mosque complex.
The petitioners challenged the order passed by the Varanasi court in the high court, saying it was illegal and without jurisdiction, as the high court had reserved its judgment on the maintainability of the suit pending in the Varanasi court. (PTI)