Sociologist Ashis Nandy left the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) on Sunday, a day after his remarks on “corruption” among SC, ST and OBC communities stirred up a controversy and triggered angry reactions and demands for his arrest. The police began investigation into the case registered against him, which named JLF producer Sanjoy Roy as a co-accused.
Even as Prof. Nandy clarified that he made the observations in the context of “corruption as an equalising force,” Dalit, tribal and OBC activists arrived at Diggi Palace, the lit-fest venue, in groups and staged demonstrations and raised slogans. One group staged a silent protest with black strips tied on the activists’ mouths.
Prof. Nandy left the city amid the raging row and clamour for immediate action on the FIR registered against him, while skipping the remaining two days of the event. He was scheduled to take part in a discussion on a session titled ‘Hindi-English Bhai Bhai’ at a session on the lawns of the heritage hotel on Sunday morning.
The police stepped up security at Diggi Palace after reports arrived that an FIR was filed against Prof. Nandy under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in Nashik. Additional police personnel were deployed on the front lawns, and people were frisked as they entered the venue.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Jaipur South) Don K. Jose told The Hindu at Diggi Palace that investigation in the case registered at the Ashok Nagar police station was “in progress.” Soon after, a police team arrived at the venue to record festival producer Sanjoy Roy’s statement.
The police have also sought from the lit-fest organisers video footage of the session in which Prof. Nandy made the remarks in order to confirm if his observations about SC, ST and OBC people being the “most corrupt” constitute an offence under the Indian Penal Code and the SC/ST Act. His subsequent clarification will also be put on record by the investigating officer.
Despite being named as a co-accused in the case, Mr. Roy seemed unfazed and said he would face the investigation as and when it was done. “I can’t help it if someone has sought to implicate me in the so-called controversy. I will face it,” he told The Hindu.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot told journalists on the sidelines of a function here that Prof. Nandy should have confined his remarks within the ambit of law. “An intellectual targeting SC, ST and OBCs in this manner is indeed unfortunate. No one should cross the limits [set] by law.”
Among the people who staged demonstrations was Rajasthan SC/ST Manch convener Rajpal Meena, who lodged the police complaint against Prof. Nandy. He said he was getting widespread support for his demand for immediate arrest of the academic for making the “derogatory” remarks, and action the against JLF organisers for allowing him at the venue.
A Muslim group, Azmat-e-Rasool Foundation, extended support to Dalits and tribal people in their “struggle for justice” and condemned the “double standards” of the authorities while dealing with different caste groups. Foundation general secretary Sajid Sahrai said the speakers at the lit-fest had not only ridiculed Dalits and minorities, but were also promoting western culture and executing the agenda of big corporate houses.