A first information report has been filed against an assistant professor at the Delhi University for his remarks on claims of a shivling being found at the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi, The Indian Express reported.
Professor Ratan Lal was booked on the basis of a complaint filed by a Supreme Court lawyer named Vineet Jindal.
In his complaint, Jindal alleged that a post made by the professor on social media has hurt the sentiments of Hindus.
“The contents of the statement made by the accused about Shiva Linga is derogatory and provocative,” Jindal added. “It is quite aggravating and defamatory statement for the whole Hindu community.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police Sagar Singh Kalsi that a case was registered against Lal under Sections 153 A (promoting enmity) and 295 A (malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code, PTI reported.
Lal, however, said that he has not received any notice from the police, adding that he would co-operate with them.
“I was not expecting threats and abuses for this statement,” Lal told The Indian Express. “There is a long tradition of critique in Hinduism from [Jyotirao] Phule, Ravidas and [BR] Ambedkar. Here, I have not even critiqued it, it is just an observation. What will people do, just put patti [cover] on their mouths?”
He also claimed that he was receiving death threats and sought protection from the government, according to PTI.
The Gyanvapi mosque case
On May 12, a Varanasi court had allowed a survey commission to carry out videography inside the Gyanvapi mosque, located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple.
The order was passed on a petition filed by five Hindu women last year, seeking permission to offer daily prayers and observe rituals at the back of the western wall of the mosque. They have claimed that an image of the Hindu deity Shringar Gauri exists at the site.
A court-appointed surveyor reported that an oval object had been found in the tank of the Muslim place of worship. Hindu petitioners claimed it is a shivling, a symbolic representation of Shiva. Muslims, however, say that the object is actually a fountain.
On May 16, the Varanasi court passed an order to seal a portion of the mosque.
On May 17, the Supreme Court directed that the spot at the mosque where the object said to be a shivling was found be protected and that Muslims should not be restricted from offering prayers.
The court will hear the case again on May 19.