Kozhikode: Police booked a professor of the National Institute of Technology-Calicut (NIT-C) for her Facebook post expressing pride in Nathuram Godse assassinating Mahatma Gandhi and saving India.
Kunnamangalam police in Kozhikode said they have invoked Section 153 (wantonly giving provocation with the intent to cause riot) against Prof Shaija A, a senior faculty member of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at NIT-Calicut. The case was registered on a complaint filed by ruling CPM’s student organisation SFI’s Kunnamangalam Area Committee Secretary Ashwin.
On January 30, the day the country observed Martyrs’ Day to mark the assassination of Gandhi, Prof Shaija posted on Facebook: “Proud of Godse for saving India”. Her message was a comment to a post by Hindutva advocate Krishna Raj who posted Godse’s photograph with the words: “Hindu Mahasabha activist Nathuram Vinayak Godse. Hero of many people in India”.
When contacted, Prof Shaija said she deleted the post because it became controversial. “NIT already saw a controversy and my post got clubbed to that,” she told Onmanorama on Saturday, February 3.
She was referring to the unrest on the campus on January 22, the day the Ram temple was consecrated in Ayodhya.
On February 2, she reportedly told The Fourth, which first reported the controversial Facebook comment, that she stood by her post. She denied saying that on Saturday.
However, a day after the professor’s post became public, CPM’s youth organisation DYFI, and student organisation SFI filed two complaints with Kunnamangalam police station accusing the professor of committing ‘sedition’ by saying the assassin of Gandhi saved India. “Not only that, her post was a deliberate attempt to create enmity and trigger unrest in society,” said DYFI’s Kozhikode District Committee’s complaint. In a statement, the organisation also demanded her ouster from the institute.
Indian Youth Congress’s Kunnamangalam Assembly Committee also filed a police complaint against the teacher. The Youth Congress committee’s president P T Azeez said the professor portrayed Nathuram Godse, a terrorist, as a saviour of the country with the intention to destroy the harmony in society. He sought exemplary action against the professor.
In a complaint to Kunnamangalam Police Station, the Indian Union Muslim League’s students’ organisation MSF said the professor’s comment that Godse saved India sent out the message that “Gandhi’s assassination was necessary and also glorified the murderer”.
Registering such opinions in the media was a seditious and deliberate attempt to polarise society and trigger riots, MSF’s Kozhikode District Committee said and demanded urgent action in its complaint.
The Kunnamangalam police, responsible for the NIT Calicut area, said they received four complaints against the professor.
If convicted, she faces a prison term of up to one year, if a rioting is committed based on her Facebook post or up to six months if the offence of rioting was not committed.
Nadakkavu Police Station in Kozhikode City said it has also received a complaint from Congress’s student organisation KSU. “But we have not yet registered an FIR,” an officer said.
NIT was in the news this week because it suspended Vyaskh Premkumar, a fourth-year Dalit student, for one year blaming him for the unrest on the campus on January 22.
On January 22, members of the Science and Spirituality (SNS) club at NIT painted a map of India in saffron colour, drew a bow and arrow in it, and chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’ as a slogan to celebrate the consecration of Ram temple.
Protesting against the nature of the celebration, Vyaskh Premkumar walked around with a placard that read ‘India is not Ram Rajya’, irking members of SNS. They allegedly tore his placard thrice and assaulted him. That triggered a conflict on the campus.
On January 31, based on the recommendation of the Institute Disciplinary Committee, NIT suspended the student for one year. The circular issued by the Dean of Students’ Welfare held him “solely accountable for inciting unrest within the community as well as for lowering the esteem of the institute both inside and outside the campus through his irresponsible behaviour”.
To be sure, NIT put on hold the suspension after massive protests by students and closed the institute for three days on February 2.