A journalism professor accused of making insulting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and union minister Smriti Irani has been jailed for insulting Lord Rama.
Professor BP Mahesh Guru, who teaches at the Mysore University, was arrested on June 17 when he appeared before a Mysore court in connection with a case registered against him for allegedly insulting the Hindu god at a conference in January 2015.
Guru’s application for bail was rejected on Monday on the ground that he was facing another case filed by the Akhila Karnataka Dr Ambedkar Prachara Samiti over his comments against Modi and Irani, the human resource development minister minister.
Guru allegedly made the comments during a meeting this January to condole the death of Rohith Vemula, the Dalit scholar whose suicide at University of Hyderabad over alleged caste discrimination triggered countrywide student protests.
Guru, who has been teaching media studies in Mysore University for decades and served in committees of the Union Public Service Commission and the Karnataka Public Service Commission, is known for his outspoken views on social issues.
Dileep Kumar, a student of Mysore University, said some people in the audience took exception to his comments when Guru last year criticised Lord Rama for being unfair to Sita, prompting a little-known outfit, Karnadu Sarvodaya Sena, to complain against him.
A case was filed against Guru again this January for his allegedly disparaging comments against Modi and Irani. He is reported to have described Irani as a “third-rate actress unworthy of being the HRD minister”.
The Mysore University is now mulling to suspend Guru, who celebrated Mahishasur Martyrdom Day to pay tribute to the demon king slain by Goddess Durga. Honouring Mahishasur has been a divisive subject and Irani spoke against it at length during a parliamentary speech in the wake of Vemula’s suicide.
Professor C Basavaraju, the registrar, however, said the university syndicate met to decide on Guru on Tuesday but refused to divulge the details. “I have just come out of the meeting, which just concluded. We will not be able to discuss the outcome of the meeting till the proceedings are out,” he said.
Guru’s detention has been condemned by human rights activists and intellectuals such as Professor Kancha Ilaiah, Teesta Setalvad, Jayati Gosh and Shamshul Islam.
Cynthia Stephen is an Independent Writer and Researcher.
This article first appeared in Hindustan Times