In Kurara, Hamirpur district of Uttar Pradesh, four Dalit men have been booked by the police for raising "anti-Hindu remarks against Hindu Gods" on 17 September — the birth anniversary of Erode Venkatappa Ramasamy or 'Thanthai' Periyar, a revered social reformer and writer.
The FIR was filed on 19 September against four men — Amar Singh, Dr Suresh, Avdhesh and Ashok Vidhyarti. A video that has been accessed by The Quint showed Amar stating, "One who has created God is a fool and the one who propagates God is 'dusht' (wicked) and He who worships God is even a bigger fool. This is the truth."
An official from Kurara police station who wishes to be anonymous told The Quint, "We got the complaint on behalf of VHP and they are charged under section 295 and 153A of Indian Penal Code."
'They Were Only Reciting Periyar's Lines': Accused's Brother
While section 295 related to "making destruction of a place of worship/object held sacred, with intent to insult the religion of a class of person," section 153A is "promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, language, etc."
Despite the complainant stating that the accused are linked to either BSP or Bhim Army, Advocate Hardaul Singh, the main accused's brother has said they are Dalits who are social workers and not members of any Party.
He told The Quint, "All they did was speak about Periyar's work and the lines were from his book. They were not tying to hurt any person or their religious sentiments."
He said that they were only spreading awareness about Periyar's work, and his work was critical of casteism and any religious rituals and idols that made people turn into "bhakts," he said. Now, he said his brother is under pressure and fear.
'Insulting Hindu Gods, Goddesses': FIR
The FIR reads, "They insulted Hindu Gods in a video that has now gone viral. This one man in the video is insulting Hindu Gods and Goddesses with insulting language in his speech in front of people which also included children." The Quint has accessed a copy of the FIR.
Hardaul said there were around 150 people in the crowd who were intently listening to the talk and children were given chocolates, diaries and pens in the celebration.
Amit Rajavat of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the complainant in the FIR told The Quint, "They also spoke against Nau-durgo ke liye jo paani diya jaata hai, purkho ke liye, those who do pooja for nine days, for our ancestors."
Rajavat stated that some people from the crowd made those videos and they went viral and shortly after there was a huge crowd of 40-50 people who were angry with the comments so he went to the police station.
He said, "Four men are booked but now there is uncertainty whether all of these four men were involved. The police is now investigating so if any of them are innocent they would be let go."
Rajavat said there were flags and banner of BSP, the district chief of the party was also in the crowd. "Amar Singh kept talking and these people were just listening and clapping," he continued.
Vidyarthi, one of the accused in the FIR told Rajavat that he is not a party member and they were celebrating Periyar's birthday and according to him, Amar was quoting Periyar in the video. "But if he was not a part of it, why didn't he or others stop him?" asked Rajavat.
Rajavat concluded, "There is no religion which instructs to say wrong about the other religion."
It is important to note that Periyar was a staunch critic of Brahmanical and non-Brahmanical religious rituals in general. As an atheist, his writings involved a criticism of godly beliefs and religious norms that impeded rational thinking or bound people by fear and inequalities.
Periyar's own lines were: "He who created god is a fool, he who propagates god is a scoundrel, and he who worships god is a barbarian." Amar was talking about these lines. Tamil Nadu also celebrates his birthday as the 'Social Justice Day.'
The police official, on the other hand, has stated that the investigation is underway in this case.