Adivasi Professor Arrested for Old Facebook Post on Right to Eat Beef

A lawyer handling the case suspects the arrest was made after the elections, so as not to anger and alienate Adivasi voters in Jharkhand.

New Delhi: An Adivasi professor at the Government School and College for Women in Jharkhand was arrested on Saturday for a 2017 Facebook post asserting his community’s right to eat beef, HuffPost India reported.

Jeetrai Hansda was taken into custody based on a complaint filed against him in June 2017. Hansda is also a prominent Adivasi activist and theatre artist.

According to HuffPost India, in June 2017, an FIR was lodged against Hansda at a police station in Sakchi in Jamshedpur over a Facebook post in which he argued that the Adivasi community had a democratic and cultural right to consume beef. He also pointed out that as a Santhali, eating beef was a part of his culture and that he shouldn’t be forced to adopt Hindu customs.

The inspecting officer, Anil Kumar Singh, after probing the case, filed an FIR against Hansda and also interrogated him.

A lawyer handling Hansda’s case told HuffPost on the condition of anonymity that he suspected that the arrest was made after the elections were over so as not to anger and alienate the Adivasis.

The BJP has won 12 out of 14 Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand this time – same as it did in 2014.

Also read: ‘Yes, Eating Beef is Part of Many Adivasi Cultures’

Hansda was booked under sections 153 (A), 295A, 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for insulting religious feelings and attempts to promote enmity between groups of people.

After it came to be known that Kolhan University – where Hansda is currently employed – had threatened to take disciplinary action against him, the chief of Majhi Pargana Mahal, Dasmath Hansdah, wrote a letter to its vice-chancellor.

According to HuffPost India, in the letter, Hansdah pointed out that the Adivasi professor’s Facebook post was a “truthful representation of the cultural and religious traditions of the Adivasi community and their culinary legacies”. The letter said, “We have come to know from local newspapers that you plan to expel Jeetrai Hansda on the basis of complaints for communal organisation ABVP.”

The letter also said, “Adivasis are citizens of India as well. We have a democratic right to follow our cultural and religious traditions like everybody else… If the Central government brings in a law banning cow slaughter, it will end our traditions and religious beliefs”.