A government college principal who allegedly made derogatory remarks about Goddess Saraswati and boasted about not allowing photographs of deities on the walls of the department he had headed in the past has been arrested and sent to a jail in Gwalior. Another professor of the same college has been booked for allegedly circulating a video of the remarks.
Dr S S Gautam, the principal of a government college in Seondha in Datia district, allegedly made some comments about Saraswati a few days ago. The remarks were filmed on a mobile phone.
After the video was circulated widely on May 26, workers cutting across political lines took to the streets in Seondha, demanding the arrest and dismissal of the 52-year-old, who was appointed principal a few months ago. Gautam surrendered after police approached his close relatives, two of whom are state government officials.
Seondha police station in-charge Shailendra Singh said Gautam, who belongs to a Scheduled Caste, was booked under Section 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, language etc) and Section 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion and religious beliefs) of the IPC.
Manoj Vyas, a professor at the Seondha college who is also an SC, has been booked under the same IPC sections, with Singh saying they were probing if he had shot the video. Vyas was the in-charge principal of the college till Gautam was appointed.
A court on Friday sent Gautam to judicial custody for two weeks, ordering that he be lodged in a jail in Gwalior for his own safety. Gautam’s application for anticipatory bail was rejected. Extra security was deployed when Gautam was produced before the court.
In the video that went viral, Gautam is purportedly heard saying he never allowed photographs of gods and goddesses to adorn the walls of the departments he had been in-charge of. “To those who questioned me, I told them I will replace them with better photographs or have a statue installed, without any intention of doing so,” Singh quoted Gautam as saying.
Gautam appears to add that he wants portraits of only Mahatma Gandhi and B R Ambedkar in the college.