New Delhi: A 25-year-old guest lecturer at a college in Silchar, Assam, was arrested and later sent to judicial custody for posting derogatory remarks against the BJP, the RSS, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ‘Sanatan dharma’.
Souradeep Sengupta, a visiting professor in the Physics department of Gurucharan College in Silchar, was arrested Friday night after an FIR was registered based on a complaint from a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student body affiliated to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
In several Facebook posts Thursday night, Sengupta accused the BJP and the RSS of “trying to recreate Godhra in Delhi” and called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “mass murderer”. Images of the posts were circulated by an ABVP secretary Karanjit Deb, accusing Sengupta of “hurting their religion”. Soon after, Sengupta began receiving hate messages on social media, his cousin said, following which he deleted the posts and briefly deactivated his account.
A little while later, Sengupta reactivated his account and posted an apology, saying his earlier comments were “irresponsible” and a “lapse of judgment”.
ABVP mobs house, demands apology
The ABVP Friday held a demonstration on the campus, demanding Sengupta be fired, and raised slogans — ‘Savarkar ki shaan me bolo, bolo vande mataram’ (In the name of Savarkar, say Vande Mataram) and ‘Desh drohi ki kabar khudegi, issi desh ki dharti par’ (We will dig graves for traitors of the country on this land itself). The student body also submitted a memo to the principal, seeking Sengupta’s removal.
According to Sengupta’s family, about 100 ABVP members mobbed their house Friday afternoon and demanded an apology from the professor via a Facebook Live session.
His mother told ThePrint that she was “disturbed by the sequence of events” and was traumatised not just with her son’s arrest but also by the behaviour of the mob.
According to Sengupta’s family, the police had initially taken Sengupta from the house around 8 pm on the grounds of safety as ABVP supporters continued protesting outside. The family was informed of his arrest only around 10 pm when Sengupta was taken for a medical exam. They claimed they were denied a copy of the FIR that night.
According to the FIR, Sengupta is being charged with instigating “communal violence by making inflammatory statements” and “hate mongering”. He has been booked under Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc.,) and Section 507 (criminal intimidation by anonymous communication).
He has also been charged under Section 66A of the IT Act, which defines the punishment for sending “offensive” messages through a digital platform or device. A conviction can fetch a maximum of three years in jail and a fine.
Sengupta’s lawyer Asamanja Biswas refused to comment on the case since the order is still pending but said Sengupta had no prior cases against him for the police to take him into custody.
Sengupta will be produced in court on Monday at 2 pm.