Jeetrai Hansda, an Adivasi professor and theatre activist, has been arrested in Jharkhand’s Jamshedpur, allegedly for a two-year old Facebook post, where he had defended his community’s right to eat beef.
Speaking to The Quint, people acquainted with Hansda confirmed the incident.
Hansda, who is a graduate of the National School of Drama and formerly a professor in the Graduate School College for Women in Jamshedpur, was arrested on the night of Saturday, 25 May, people aware of the matter, told The Quint.
According to the FIR lodged at the Sakchi police station in Jamshedpur, Hansda wrote a Facebook post in 2017 in which he spoke of Adivasi communities’ tradition of eating beef and conducting ceremonial cow sacrifice, a Huffington Post report said.
He wrote the post in support of a beef party organised by the IIT-Madras students, prompting the Akhil Bharatiya Vishwa Parishad (ABVP), the student's wing of the RSS, to file a complaint against him, a local police officer told news agency PTI.
The beef fest was organised at IIT-Madras in 2017 in protest against the restrictions imposed on cattle trade by the Union government.
He also wrote that it was Adviasis’ democratic and cultural right to consume beef, and mentioned unwillingness to follow Hindu customs. He further pointed out that Adivasis eat peacocks, India’s national bird.
He was reportedly 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.
Sources told The Quint that efforts are being made to get Hansda released from police custody.
According to Huffington Post, Hansda’s lawyer said that he had been asked to appear at the police station in 2017 but was not arrested. The professor’s application for anticipatory bail was also rejected.
The report also quoted the lawyer as saying that the arrest was made after the elections were over so that the BJP did not anger the Adivasis.
Asked for a reaction, Kolhan University vice-chancellor Shukla Mohanty said Hansda was a guest faculty member of the Graduate School College for Women when he posted the message on Facebook. He was later absorbed as a contractual teacher in the women's college.
"A show-cause notice was served to Hansda after receiving a complaint about his objectionable Facebook post. He then apologised," Mohanty said, adding that Hansda had joined as a contractual faculty member in the Co-operative College recently.
(With inputs from Huffington Post, PTI)