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Goa: FIR Against Professor for 'Outraging Religious Feelings'

Shilpa Singh was previously the target of a complaint by the ABVP, which claimed that her lectures promote “socially hateful thoughts about a particular religion”.

New Delhi: An FIR was registered on Monday against Shilpa Singh, an assistant professor at a Goa law college, for ‘outraging religious feelings with deliberate and malicious intention’.

The case was filed based on a complaint filed by Rashtriya Hindu Yuva Vahini’s Goa unit member Rajiv Jha, according to the Indian Express. Singh, who teaches political science at Panaji’s VM Salgaocar College of Law, was previously the target of a complaint filed by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), which objected to the topics that she teaches to her students.

Jha’s complaint was regarding a post that Singh made on Facebook almost six months ago, in which she apparently compared the mangalsutra to a “chained dog”.

Singh has also filed a complaint against Jha, based on which an FIR was registered against him. Singh accuses Jha of criminally intimidating her and that he outraged her modesty via his “abusive” Facebook posts.

According to Deccan Herald, the FIR against Singh says, “The above noted accused person having a Facebook profile in the name of Shilpa Surendra Pratap Singh knowingly uploaded a post through the Facebook account in the public domain with deliberate and malicious intention outraged religious feelings of the complainant, thereby insulted religious belief, thus committed offence under section 295 A IPC.”

The development comes days after the law college responded to the ABVP’s complaint against Singh, saying the body does not have a “locus standi” to raise objections about her teaching. The college refused to terminate her services. The ABVP’s complaint claimed Singh’s lectures promote “socially hateful thoughts about a particular religion”.

According to the Indian Express, Jha said he was aware of the ABVP’s letter but added that he has filed the complaint in a “personal capacity”.

Jha told the paper that he is a “practicing Hindu Brahmin” and described Singh as “Hindu-phobic”. He added: “Since she is a woman I went to the police station. She has filed a counter-compliant of abuse and threat to life. I could have gone directly to the college and sought action. (But) I have not.”

Also Read: ‘Vemula, Dabholkar, Kalburgi’: Goa ABVP Threatens Action Against ‘Anti-Religious’ Lectures

In a Facebook post, Singh said she was the target of a “witch hunt”.  She said she does not believe education is “merely rote learning” and she tries to impart “critical tools necessary for students of political science to understand and analyse the complexities, contradictions and emergent power relations animating the realm of politics in the world”.

Before the FIR was filed, Singh said she regrets any hurt she may have caused to women.

“At the outset, I wish to express my regret to my fellow women if any of my facebook posts have caused them hurt and offended them. I am aware that one of my facebook posts was in the eye of the storm due to my personal views on mangalsutra and burqa and it was taken totally out of context. It was never my intention to ridicule religion or women. Since my childhood, I have been curious on questions why we have exclusive marital status symbols for women and not for the men in various cultures practices. It is depressing to see that a false opinion has been created about myself by my detractors – that I am an ‘anti-religion’ or a run-of-the-mill ‘god-hating atheist’. This is far from the truth,” she said.

She said her questioning of cultural practices is in the spirit of “rational enquiry and progressive thinking”. She said she has strived to critically engage with “dominant societal power relations and establishment dogmas, in all aspects of society and would continue to do so”.