Jamshedpur: A prominent tribal activist and professor has been arrested almost two years after he wrote a Facebook post asserting his community’s right to eat beef.
Jeetrai Hansda, a teacher in the Jamshedpur Co-operative College, was arrested on the basis of a complaint filed against him in June 2017 by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s student wing Akhil Bharati Vidyarthi Parishad.
He was apprehended from a village in Sakchi area of Jamshedpur on Saturday night, an officer said, adding that the teacher had been evading arrest.
The timing of the police action, two days after the declaration of the election results, has prompted questions whether the BJP-run administration in the state delayed the arrest to avoid an Adivasi backlash in the polls.
The saffron party kept up its dominance in the state in the elections, winning 12 of 14 Lok Sabha seats.
"Hansda has been booked under various sections of the IPC and the IT Act, and the process to forward him to judicial custody is currently underway," Rajeev Singh, the officer-in-charge of Sakchi police station, told PTI.
The teacher, a resident of Parsudih, had in his post talked of Adivasi communities’ tradition of eating beef and conducting ceremonial cow sacrifice. He wrote that it was Adviasis’ democratic and cultural right to consume beef, and mentioned unwillingness to follow Hindu customs. He also pointed out that Adivasis eat peacocks, India’s national bird.
In the post, he had also supported a beef party organised by IIT-Madras students. The beef fest was organized at IIT-Madras in 2017 in protest against the restrictions imposed on cattle trade by the Union government.
The student's union had demanded the sacking of Hansda. The post was then deleted, the officer added.
Asked for a reaction, Kolhan University vice-chancellor Shukla Mohanty said Hansda was a guest faculty member of the Graduate School College for Women when he posted the message on Facebook. He was later absorbed as a contractual teacher in the women's college.
"A show-cause notice was served to Hansda after receiving a complaint about his objectionable Facebook post, He then apologised," Mohanty said, adding that Hansda had joined as a contractual faculty member in the Co-operative College recently.