Hours after he was allegedly forced to resign on Saturday, the principal of a government-run law college in Indore was booked, along with three others, on charges of promoting enmity and hurting religious feelings, The Indian Express reported.
The action against Inamul Rahman, who had been serving as principal of New Government Law College since 2019, was taken after a controversy erupted in the college about a book in the institute’s library.
Members of student Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, or ABVP, had alleged that the book Collective Violence and Criminal Justice System contains objectionable content against Hindus and Hindutva outfits such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal.
ABVP is the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
ABVP members alleged that the book talks about the emergence of “Hindu communalism as a destructive ideology”. The book also mentions that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other Hindutva outfits seek to establish a Hindu-majority state and want to “enslave other communities”, ABVP claimed, according to NDTV.
On December 1, members of the organisation had also accused some professors of the college of promoting “love jihad” and “propagating religious extremism”. The professors were temporarily suspended from carrying out academic work as the college authorities decided to get a retired district court judge to investigate the allegations.
“Love jihad” is a conspiracy theory espoused by Hindutva activists, who claim that it involves Muslim men luring Hindu women to marry them in order to later convert them to Islam. The term is being used despite the BJP-led Centre’s statement in Lok Sabha in February 2020 that no “case of ‘love jihad’ has been reported by any of the central agencies”.
On Saturday, Madhya Home Minister Narottam Mishra ordered the police to register a case after conducting an inquiry into the contents of the book.
“We have received complaints of professors teaching out-of-syllabus texts. Anti-national issues have surfaced,” Mishra said, according to NDTV. “Complaints such as getting students to cast their votes on Article 370 and issues of ‘love jihad’ have also surfaced. We will take strict action.”
Following this, a first information report was registered against Rahman, the author of the book, Farhat Khan, the book’s publisher Amar Law Publication and professor Mirza Mojiz Baig.
They have been charged under Sections 153-A (promoting enmity amongst two groups), 295-A (making deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage the religious feeling of a group), 500 (defamation), 504 (intentional insult with an intent to provoke and breach peace), 505 (statements conducting to public mischief), and other sections of the Indian Penal Code.
The FIR was based on a complaint filed by a student Lucky Adiwal, who allegedly had not paid his fee for the past two years, reported The Indian Express, citing college authorities.
“Resigned under pressure”
On Saturday, Rahman claimed that when he took charge in 2019, he was not aware that the college library had the book.
“I had to resign under pressure with no fault of mine,” he told The Indian Express. “The book was procured by the principal in 2014 based on the recommendation of the faculty.”
He added: “After objections were raised over the content of the book back then, the writer had to apologise and the book was never a part of the curriculum since.”
Meanwhile, Hitesh Khetrapal, a representative of Amar Law Publications said that the content in some pages of the book were edited in 2021.
“The first edition of this book was published in the year 2015,” Khetrapa said, according to PTI. “When we came to know about its controversial parts in 2021, we discussed it with its author and got the related pages of the book changed.”
Khetrapal also said that a letter of apology was also submitted by Khan at the time.