Chhattisgarh school headmaster held for administering ‘pledge against Hindu deities’

Family says he was reiterating Ambedkar’s oath

January 29, 2024 04:03 pm | Updated 08:31 pm IST - RAIPUR

A government school headmaster in Chhattisgarh’s Bilaspur district has been arrested for allegedly hurting religious sentiments by administering a pledge to people “not to worship Hindu gods” and to embrace Buddhism, said the police on Monday.

On January 22, 60-year-old Ratalal Sarovar, the headmaster of a government primary school in Bharari village, allegedly administered the said pledge to a group of people. A clip of the incident surfaced online prompting a complaint by Rupesh Shukla, an activist of the Bajrang Dal, and the subsequent police action.  

A police officer said Mr. Shukla, in his complaint, claimed that Mr. Sarovar’s actions hurt the sentiments of the followers of Sanatan Dharma. The FIR also quotes Mr. Shukla highlighting the significance of the date, January 22, when the consecration of the Ram Temple was held in Ayodhya.  

Mr. Sarovar was booked under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class) of the Indian Penal Code, the officer added. He was arrested on Sunday. 

Mr. Sarovar’s family said the pledge was part of the 22 oaths prescribed by B.R. Ambedkar for conversion to Buddhism, and that the issue had been blown out of proportion. “My father was only reiterating the pledge at a community event, and those who joined did so of their own free will. There was absolutely no coercion. He did not intend to hurt anyone’s feelings,” Manoj Sarovar, his son, told The Hindu.

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