New Delhi: Professor B.P. Mahesh Guru, a professor of journalism at the University of Mysore, was arrested on June 17 for making “anti-Ram” comments. The Dalit professor was arrested for an incident that occurred last year, when he apparently criticised the Hindu God for being unjust to Sita. “Ram of Ramayana had violated human rights. He suspected Sita’s fidelity and victimised her. I see this as a violation of human rights,” Guru had said, according to reports.
He has been teaching at the university since 1999.
Guru has spoken up against those in power before. In January this year, a case was filed against him by a local right-wing group for criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union human resource development minister Smriti Irani. These remarks were made at an event to protest the death of the University of Hyderabad PhD research scholar Rohith Vemula, whose suicide – dubbed an ‘institutional killing’ by his supporters – sparked nationwide protests against caste discrimination.
The professor had also attended a Mahishana Habba celebration in October last year, according to a Forward Press report, where he said, “Mahisha was indeed a Buddhist-Bahujan king who ruled Mahisha Mandala on the basis of human values and progressive ideologies. He was a symbol of equality and justice … The brahmanical forces are bent upon doing injustice to history and retaining the status quo have created the fictitious story of the killing of Mahishashura by Chamundeswari. The celebration of Mahishana Habba is the beginning of the Dasara festival of the indigenous people. From now on, the indigenous people will be celebrating a festival in honour of Mahisha, not Dussehra.”
On hearing of the existence of a second case against him, the court refused to accept the professor’s bail plea. He had moved the court for bail on June 20, reports said.
Reports stated that the University of Mysore has decided to suspend the professor because of these allegations. However, when contacted by The Wire, university staff answering the phone in the registrar’s office said the official decision was yet to be announced. Both the vice-chancellor and the registrar of the varsity had not responded to The Wire‘s request for confirmation and comments at the time of publication.
Numerous intellectuals and activists have condemned Guru’s arrest, including Teesta Setalvad, Kancha Ilaiah and Shamsul Islam.