Acting on the complaint filed by a local youth for hurting the ‘religious sentiments’ of Hindus, Siliguri Police started a case and slapped non-bailable section of IT Act against Bengali poet Srijato Bandyopadhyay on Wednesday. One of the two sections carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison and/or fine.
On the evening of March 19, Bandyopadhyay, 42, posted a poem on his Facebook wall where he criticised the outcome of the UP elections, took a veiled dig at chief minister Yogi Aditya Nath and made a ‘derogatory’ remark against Trishul, a quintessential Hindu symbol.
“We have initiated a case against the accused under section 295A and 57 of the IT Act. We have also sent a requisition to Facebook to find concrete evidence to determine from whose account and from using which piece of hardware the poem was posted,” a senior officer of Siliguri Police commissionarate told HT.
The police complaint against the poet has polarised the residents of Bengal, with Bandyopadhyay receiving a lot of support from the intellectuals to carry on his ‘protest’. “I shall continue to write what I feel as a poet, undeterred by such complaints,” Bandyopadhyay told the media on Tuesday.
Section 295A of the IT Act relates to “deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs”.
On Monday, Arnab Sarkar, a resident of Bagha Jatin colony in Pradhan Nagar area, filed the complaint in which he alleged that the poem wounded “the feelings of each Hindu through the use of distasteful words”.
“Police is doing their work. Let’s see where the case proceeds,” Sarkar told HT.
Till Wednesday evening, Bandyopadhyay’s Facebook post recorded 3,799 shares and 4,743 comments. Though some expressed support, many lambasted the poet --- often in unprintable language --- on his wall.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh has already criticised the poet. “He does not have too many readers. He has not only made distasteful comments against Hindu religion, but also made disparaging comments against Yogi Aditya Nath, who is an elected representative of the people,” remarked Ghosh.
“I will not give much importance to the issue. The majority of people in this country believe in freedom of speech. A degree of freedom of speech still exists in this country. Our country has not become Pakistan or Bangladesh, and one has the right to speak here. Since the past two days I have been trolled in Facebook after I posted the poem,” said the poet.
“Some of the comments against me are dangerous threats. These people, so called flag bearers of Hindutva, never read poems and I do not expect them to understand,” Bandyopadhyay also told HT.
Sarkar, a second-year student of accountancy, said: “I have reservations about the last line of the poem where he makes derogatory remarks about trishul, a quintessential symbol of Hindu religion.”