India: academic, Dalit rights defender arrested for social media postEvent
- Initial Date
- May 20, 2022
- Event Description
About the Human Rights Defender: Professor Ratan Lal is an Associate professor of History at the Hindu college in Delhi University. He is also an Dalit activist and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ambedkarnama, a news portal focusing on Dalit issues.
Details of the incident: In May 2022, Professor Lal made a Facebook post on his Facebook wall, which referred to claims of a Shivling been found at the Gyanvapi mosque. On May, 17, 2022, an FIR was registered against Professor Lal following a police complaint by a Delhi-based lawyer. In his complaint, Advocate Vineet Jindal said Mr Lal recently shared a "derogatory, inciting and provocative tweet on the shivling". On May 20, 2022, the professor was called to the police station for questioning. And at 10:30 pm on the same day, the Delhi police arrested the Hindu College history teacher under 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) of the Indian Penal Code. Defending his post Prof Lal said he had simply posed a question as a student of history. ““People can be hurt by anything. Academic discourse cannot be side-lined on account of perceived hurt. I had asked a simple question to enquire if the so-called shivling was broken or cut. Mullahs and Pandits don’t need to comment on it. An art historian should answer this question,”
A Delhi court on Saturday granted bail to Delhi University professor Ratan Lal, who was arrested on Friday over a social media post allegedly intended to outrage religious beliefs after the alleged discovery of ‘Shivling’ inside the Gyanvapi Mosque complex in Varanasi, on furnishing a bond of ₹50,000 and surety on the like amount. Lal was produced before the Tis Hazari Court, which granted him the bail.
The court, however, directed Lal to strictly refrain from posting any social media posts or interviews regarding the ‘shivling’ controversy.
An FIR was lodged against Lal, a Hindu College associate professor, on Tuesday night based on a complaint filed by a Delhi-based lawyer. In his complaint, advocate Vineet Jindal said the professor had recently shared a "derogatory, inciting and provocating tweet on the Shivling".
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).
On Saturday, Left-affiliated All India Students Association (AISA) activists staged a protest outside Delhi University's Arts Faculty against the arrest of the Hindu College associate professor.
The student activists held placards that read: "Stop attack on our teachers", "Stop curbing democratic voices" and "Release professor Ratan Lal".
There was a heavy deployment of police during the protest. Apart from the district police, four companies from an outside force, including women personnel, have been put in place, police said.
Lal had earlier said he had simply posed a question as a student of history. “People can be hurt by anything. Academic discourse cannot be sidelined on account of perceived hurt. I had asked a simple question to enquire if the so-called shivling was broken or cut. Mullahs and Pandits don’t need to comment on it. An art historian should answer this question,” said Lal.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Freedom of expression
- Right to liberty and security
- Freedom of expression
- Minority rights defender
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 20 May 2022, professor Ratan Lal, academic and Dalit rights defender, was arrested by the police over a social media post deemed to instigate hatred among religious groups in Delhi, India.