Barely three hours after he was warned on Facebook by a BJP IT cell member for his critical post on former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on August 17, Sanjay Kumar, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Mahatma Gandhi Central University (MGCU), was assaulted by a group of 20-25 people.
At 12.34 pm, Rajan Srivastava, a member of BJP’s IT cell in Motihari, responding to Kumar’s post on Facebook, wrote, “MGCUB ke professor mahoday abhi aapne Champaran walon ka muhabbat dekha hai ab latkhurdam dekhne ka samay aa gaya hai (Mr Professor of MGCUB, you have so far seen only the love of Champaran residents, now get ready to see their muscle power).”
Kumar’s two posts, critical of Vajpayee, were on August 16 evening and at 6.48 am, August 17.
Police have not yet questioned Srivastava. When he was asked about this, Motihari Superintendent of Police Upendra Sharma told The Indian Express, “Ever since Supreme Court has repealed Section 66A of IT Act (regarding offensives online messages), we are not looking too much into social media posts. So many important people are being trolled. But we are surely investigating the deeper conspiracy behind the assault on Sanjay Kumar.”
Two faculty members and two MGCU students, an RJD youth leader, a former leader of Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Party, two local journalists, and a director of a pharmaceutical company which tied up with the university for supply of laboratory equipment, are among the dozen people booked for assaulting Sanjay Kumar on August 17.
The attackers, the complainant claimed, were persons close to MGCU Vice Chancellor Arvind Kumar Agrawal. Another post by Rakesh Pandey of Motihari on 8.48 am on August 17, said, “Aaj desh shok mein dooba hai. kintu ismey bhi kuch Marxwadi aur Leninwadi. unkey kuch chamche laash par raajnitik roti sek rahe hain. Kya Motihari kay log mitti kay buth ban gaye hain? Motihari kay logon kay shariron mein khoon nahi paani beh raha hai? (The country is in mourning. Some Marxists and Leninists.. and their stooges are indulging in politics. Have people of Motihari become statues of clay? Is there water, and not blood, in their bodies?)”
Pandey is one of the accused, and a director in Bravo Pharmaceuticals Private Limited, the pharma company which has a Letter of Intent (LoI) with MGCU. He says he belongs to the “Sangh”.
An MGCU student, and another accused, Purushotam Mishra, posted, “Atalji ki mrityu par #MGCUB mein pal rahe… jo tum unki laash par rajniti kar rahe ho na to kaan kholkar sunlo ye Champaran ki dharti hai yahan tumhara sarwnash ho jayega (Those indulging in politics at a time when Atalji is no more are warned they will be destroyed in this land of Champaran).”
Within hours of these posts, Sanjay Kumar was dragged out of his second-floor residence in Azadnagar locality and assaulted by 20-25 people, at least one of them armed with an iron rod. He is being treated at AIIMS, New Delhi for multiple injuries. In his complaint filed at Town police station, he said about 20-25 people led by Rahul Pandey and Aman Bihari Vajpayee attacked him when he was in his room at Azad Nagar in Motihari. A video of the incident shows a person asking Kumar if he wanted to “become Kanhaiya Kumar”.
A counter FIR has also been filed against Kumar, following a complaint by a Motihari resident Ranjeet Yadav on August 20. The assistant professor has been charged under sections 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the IPC.
The university, which provides undergraduate and post-graduate courses in 14 disciplines, has been closed sine die since the incident amidst apprehensions of law and order problems. The university, for which 38 acres has just been acquired, has been functioning from a portion of a zilla school since 2016. It has about 600 students. Admissions to the current session are three months behind schedule, and yet to commence.
Though Kumar alleged that the attackers tried to lynch him and the Patna Medical College and Hospital’s medical report mentions “HI (head injury) and multiple injuries”, the FIR does not include Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC.
Motihari SP Upendra Sharma said the police took cognizance of the “injury report of Motihari Sadar hospital that termed it as simple injury” and hence did not press attempt to murder charges.
Before Sanjay Kumar was admitted to PMCH, he was seen by doctors at Sadar Hospital, Motihari. Dr Amit Kumar, who examined Kumar, said, “The patient did not suffer any serious injury and could have been treated here. As friends of patient insisted on him being referred, we did so.”
When contacted, Vice Chancellor Agarwal told The Indian Express through a set of text messages that no one had right to put him “on trial”. Asked about some faculty’s allegations that he was close to most of the attackers and to the BJP, the VC said, “Teachers are supposed to teach and not indulge in provoking students or fabricating baseless charges… I don’t give any one the right to put me on trial except legitimate authorities of Government.”
When contacted, BJP’s Motihari IT Cell head Pankaj Sinha told The Indian Express, “Some teachers are making baseless allegations against our IT cell member Rajan Srivastava, who otherwise faces no case. There was no meeting at his cafe on August 17 as is being alleged. As for his Facebook post, it should have been avoided. As far as the attack on Professor Kumar is concerned, one should go to Newton’s law. Our workers have no role to play. It was public sentiment.”
About Aman Bihari Vajpayee’s association with RJD, party spokesperson Mrityunjay Tewari said: “We are getting details on him and the party will take appropriate action, if needed.”
Those named in the FIR lodged by Kumar in the Town police station on August 17 include:
* Aman Bihari Vajpayee, Sunny Vajpayee, Rakesh Pandey and Rahul R Pandey: Aman Bihari Vajpayee is an RJD youth wing leader. He had been one of the RJD delegates in the students’ union election in MS College, Motihari this March. Sunny is his brother. Aman, Sunny and Rahul R Pandey, all local residents in their 20s, are said to be close to Rakesh Pandey, one of the three directors of Bravo Pharmaceuticals Private Limited, a pharma company, which has a Letter of Intent (LoI) with MGCU. Rakesh Pandey describes himself as belonging to the “Sangh”. He is the first person to react to Kumar’s anti-Vajpayee Facebook post. He is a Motihari resident who spends most of his time abroad. He last visited MGCU last June.
* Jitendra Giri and Diwakar Singh: Police have arrested them. Giri was an active leader of RJD rebel Pappu Yadav’s Jan Adhikar Party until recently. Giri is now said to be close to Rakesh Pandey, who also harbours political ambitions. Diwakar Singh is said to be close to journalist Gyaneshwar Gautam.
* Purushotam Mishra and Ravikesh Mishra: Purushotam Mishra is a third-semester computer science student (in undergrad course) at MGCU and said to be close to a faculty member Dinesh Vyas, a co-accused in the case and said to be close to MGCU Vice Chancellor Agrawal. Ravikesh Mishra is a fifth-year student in undergrad course in sociology at the university. Sources said Ravikesh is close to a senior BJP Motihari leader.
* Dinesh Vyas and Pawnesh Kumar: Vyas and Kumar, also named in the case, are faculty members at MGCU and allegedly played as “instigators” as per police investigation. Vyas, who hails from Rajasthan, is an assistant professor of sociology. MGCU Teachers Association president Pramod Meena said, “Vyas is not comfortable with teaching and does not enjoy confidence of students and hence, has enough reason to keep the VC in good humour.” Ever since a fellow teacher Shashikant Ray filed an RTI seeking details on his Ph.D degree, he has been “under pressure”. Pawnesh is also said to be close to the VC.
* Gyaneshwar Gautam and Sanjay Kumar Singh: While Gautam, a Samastipur resident is a former Motihari correspondent of Aaj, a Hindi daily, Sanjay Kumar Singh, a local, has been Motihari bureau chief of Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar. Sanjay also worked with Dainik Jagran and Prabhat Khabar in Motihari and Betiah. Gyaneshwar and Sanjay had reportedly mobilised MGCU teachers’ agitation last year demanding reinstatement of two assistant professors, Amit Ranjan and Shashikant Ray, who were eventually reinstated. Gyaneshwar was later made a member in anti-ragging committee of the university. Gyaneshwar Gautam was one of the first persons who circulated the controversial post of Sanjay Kumar.
In his August 17 Facebook post, Gautam said: “…Abhivyakti ki aajadi ke naam par kuchh desi kutton ne bahut gandh failai hai. Ab unka sarwanash karne ka waqt aa gaya hai.” (Some country dogs have vitiated the atmosphere in name of freedom of expression. Time has come to finish them.) Journalist Sanjay Kumar Singh also reacted to Sanjay Kumar’s anti-Vajpayee post saying “…if any dog has any problem, they can leave the country. This should be treated as a warning or else people would talk in language of boots by reaching university campus.”