The Pune Police on Saturday arrested the department head of Savitribai Phule Pune University’s Centre for Performing Arts, also known as Lalit Kala Kendra, and five of its students for staging a play with allegedly objectionable depictions of Hindu deities Ram, Sita and Laxman, reported The Indian Express reported.

The play, titled “Jab We Met”, is about the backstage lives of actors in a Ramleela troupe. Written, directed and performed by university students, it was staged on campus on Friday evening. In a video of the performance that has been shared widely on social media, a male actor portraying Sita can be seen smoking a cigarette and uttering expletives.

The performance was disrupted by a group of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad workers, including the organisation’s Pune unit chief Harshwardhan Harpude, who later filed a complaint at the Chaturshringi Police Station on Friday night against the play’s “objectionable and abusive” content.

The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad is the student organisation of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – the parent organisation of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Pravin Dattatraya Bhole, who has been a professor at the university since 1997, was arrested along with the play’s writer and director Bhavesh Rajendra Patil. The actors who were arrested are Jay Pedanekar, Prathamesh Savant, Hrushikesh Dalvi and Yash Chikhale.

The six have been charged with the Indian Penal Code sections 295A (insulting religious beliefs), 294 (obscene acts and songs), 143 and 149 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt). The police have also invoked sections 116 and 117 (abetting commission of offence) of the Maharashtra Police Act and sections of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act.

The first information report also alleges that the performers attacked members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad when they disrupted the play.

Savitribai Phule Pune University has formed a fact-finding committee to investigate the incident. In a statement, the university said, “Parody of any person, legend or historical figure is completely wrong and prohibited.” The statement added that it was the university’s responsibility “to ensure that no one takes the law into their own hands”.

A student of the Defence and Strategic Studies Department of the university told The Indian Express that the allegedly objectionable portion of the play is “set in the dressing room where the actors are talking amongst themselves”.