A complaint has been filed with the National Human Rights Commission on the arrest of Dalit intellectual Kanwal Bharti over a Facebook post that was critical of the Samajwadi Party government on the suspension of IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal.
Mr. Bharti was on Tuesday arrested from his Rampur home and charged under IPC Sections 153 and 295 A, which deal with “provocation with intent to cause riot” and “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.”
In her complaint to, Uttar Pradesh based social activist Nutan Thakur said Mr. Bharti's “arbitrary and hasty arrest” was an “open abuse of administrative power.”
She called for an immediate enquiry and strict action. She said the Dalit thinker's comments were not in any way meant to spread communal animosity but were only an “intellectual assertion” of a sequence of events, administrative acts and certain persons.
Dr. Thakur also prayed that Mr. Bharti be compensated for the hasty manner in which an FIR was lodged and he arrested, as it showed that it was intended to “threaten” and “intimidate” him.
In his Facebook status, Mr. Bharti expressed criticism of senior Samajwadi Party leaders, including Cabinet Minister Azam Khan over the Durga Shakti Nagpal issue and other cases.
The FIR was reportedly lodged by Fasahat Ali, PRO of Azam Khan. Mr. Bharti was on Tuesday produced before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate V.K Pandey, which granted him bail.
“I was picked up forcefully without any reason and despite pleading with them [police] I was not told why I was being picked up. They kept me in custody for eight hours. Even my family was not informed of my arrest,” he told The Hindu.
Mr. Bharti alleged that in Rampur the “will” of Mr. Azam Khan and his supporters prevailed and that his arrest was motivated by his earlier criticism of the Minister over the demolition of a madrasa.
Mr. Bharti welcomed the complaint but expressed concern as the police had not returned his computer, which was confiscated after his arrest. His Internet modem was also in police possession.
Mr. Bharti said his computer stored important documents, including four unpublished books and more than 250 unpublished articles and e-books.
“I am having difficulty, I cannot work, nor email anyone,” said. He has written an application to the court but admits that it “would involve a long procedure” before he could get back his computer.
Mr. Bharti, whose life has been one of struggle, has his poetry included in curriculum prescribed for post-graduate studies in various national universities. He has authored 15 books and is also a recipient of Dr. Ambedkar National Award 1996 and Bhim Ratna Award 2001. His famous works include two poems — Tab Tumhari Nishtha Kya Hogi and Shambook — besides a criticism titled ‘Philosophy of Dalit Literature.’