Goa professor booked for ‘outraging religious sentiments’
The Goa police have booked a professor at Panaji’s V M Salgaocar College of Law for allegedly “outraging religious sentiments” in a Facebook post on mangalsutras and burqas.
Shilpa Surendra Pratap Singh, the professor, insisted her post was academic in nature and was not intended to hurt sentiments. “...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 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,” Singh said in a subsequent post. “I wish to express my regret to my fellow women if any of my Facebook posts have caused them hurt and offended them”
Singh said her criticism of a set of practices and dogma has little to do with disdain or irreverence for religion or religious believers but more to do with the symbolism they represent.
She has also filed a police complaint alleging she was being threatened. “...instead of countering the point made by me in a rational or logical manner, mob justice is being meted out to me by certain people and organisations with vested interests. I am afraid that this may degenerate into vigilante actions that are aimed at suppressing my voice and even cause physical harm to me,” she said.
“My modesty is being outraged, my mental health is being assaulted and yet nobody is able to stop these threatening visuals since it is driven by men. Since men hold all positions of power everywhere, a female will always be penalised for her free thinking.”
A First Information Report based on her complaint has also been registered.
Earlier Maharashtra branch of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad sought her sacking even as her students and college rallied behind her.
She was booked after Ravi Jha, a member of the Rashtriya Hindu Yuva Vahini, filed a complaint against her for insulting religious belief.
“We have booked a case under section 295A of the Indian Penal Code and have begun investigating. We have asked her to explain her post,” Police Inspector Sudesh Naik said.
Singh could face up to five years if convicted under the section that has been applied, the police said.
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