Other States

Dalit Professor issued notice for comment on Hindu deity

Following a complaint by a delegation of students who claimed they had been offended by Mr. Harijan’s remarks.

A Dalit Assistant Professor in Allahabad University on Saturday said he feared he could be lynched by a mob after an old video showing him making controversial remarks about a Hindu deity was widely circulated on campus.

The central university’s administration has served Vikram Harijan, an Assistant Professor in the Medieval and Ancient History department, a show-cause notice for his remarks following a complaint by a delegation of students who claimed they had been offended by Mr. Harijan’s remarks.

Mr. Harijan found himself in trouble after a research scholar, Ranjeet Saroj, on August 20 uploaded on YouTube a video showing the faculty member making controversial comments on a Hindu deity. Following the circulation of the video, a delegation of students led by Ashwani Kumar Maurya, joint secretary of the ABVP (Kashi Pranth) wrote to the university’s vice-chancellor on August 27 demanding action against Mr. Harijan. They contended that Mr. Harijan’s “anti-dharma” utterances had “hurt religious sentiments” of the public. Mr. Maurya also lodged a police complaint against the faculty member at the Colonelganj police station.

Asserting that he had expressed regret for his comments, if they had hurt anyone's sentiments, Mr. Harijan told The Hindu, that the video being circulated was, however, at least two years old.

The video, which shows the faculty member narrating how as a sixth-standard student he had insulted a Hindu deity but faced no backlash from the deity to push his argument against religion and fears related to it, had been shot at a private event at a hostel in Prayagraj on April 14, 2017, on the birth anniversary of Bhimrao Ambedkar.

“My purpose was to say that our children should move forward on the basis of education, hard work and rationality, not to rely on destiny or fear of god,” he explained. “Faith is the path to superstition,” he added.

Mr. Harijan said he had received several threats and casteist slurs over the phone, after the video surfaced last week, and expressed his apprehension of becoming a victim of “mob lynching”. He said he had informed the administration about his fears and had sought protection.

“I messaged the Proctor saying that I could be mob lynched, by Hindu fanatics,” he said.

Proctor R.S. Dubey said Mr. Harijan had been issued a show-cause notice and further action would be taken after his reply. On the security threat perceived by the Assistant Professor, Mr. Dubey said: “If anyone has a security problem, they should approach the police. I am a teacher, what point is it telling me.”

Mr. Harijan contended that the video had been uploaded by Mr. Saroj due to personal animosity against him and caste prejudice. “He did this to show me my aukaat (position in society),” asserted Mr. Harijan, referring to his Jatav caste.

Mr. Saroj is also a Dalit but belongs to the Pasi sub-caste, and Mr. Harijan alleged Mr. Saroj considers his caste superior to Jatavs.

Mr. Saroj refuted Mr. Harijan's allegation and said he had uploaded the video as he could no longer tolerate the “repeated” insults to Hinduism by Mr. Harijan.

“Does the constitution give you the right for such things? We should respect all religions,” said Mr. Saroj, who is also an activist of the Akhil Bharatiya Ambedkar Mahasabha.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 4:40:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/dalit-professor-issued-notice-for-comment-on-hindu-deity/article29310481.ece

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