After a Siliguri student lodged criminal case against him for allegedly hurting the religious sentiments of the Hindus, Facebook has removed a controversial poem of Bengali poet Srijato Bandyopadhyay. On March 19, 2017 when yogi Adityanath sworn-in as UP chief minister, the 12 lined poem titled ‘Abhishap’ meaning curse was posted on Facebook. he made ‘derogatory’ remark against Trishul, a quintessential symbol of Hindu. The poet sought police protection when people trolled him on Facebook, saying that some of the comments were threatening in nature.
The student who lodged case against him said in his complaint that Srijato’s poem, particularly last 2 lines, hurt the Hindus’ religious sentiments. The police started the case and slapped non-bailable section of IT Act. Section 295A of the IT Act relates to “deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs”. This section carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and/or fine.
On march 25 Srijato said in media-“I have seen today that the Facebook authorities have removed the poem.” The port commented-“I will not give much importance to the issue. The majority of people in this country believe in freedom of speech. A degree of freedom of speech still exists in this country. Our country has not become Pakistan or Bangladesh, and one has the right to speak here. Since the past two days I have been trolled in Facebook after I posted the poem”.
The poet also told media-“Some of the comments against me are dangerous threats. These people, so called flag bearers of Hindutva, never read poems and I do not expect them to understand”. Bandyopadhyay also said-“I will continue to write what i feel as a poet, undeterred by such complaints”.
Soon after this Mamata Banerjee came into action. Being chief minister, she has to react to issue which is hurting religious sentiments… what she did… she stood by him and supported. she said-“I can tell you nothing harsh will happen to Srijato. Everyone has democratic rights. He wrote a poem, which is political. Those who are spreading Saffronisation have lodged the complaint. In social media the poet is being targeted and threatened. I do not want to name anyone. They want to dictate what we will think and do.”
She ensured-” There will be no problem(for the poet) and i will take full care. I have asked police to conduct an investigation into the matter and submit the report to me. Do not worry”. She directly pointed Saffronisation(BJP) instead of solving the issue. This reaction of hers indirectly points that there is no harm in hurting religious sentiments. As per her reaction, it seems clear that one who is hurting Hindu sentiments has democratic rights, but one who hurt by him don’t have any democratic rights to stand by his religion.
A day after removing the controversial poem of the poet, the political drama started and Facebook authorities termed it as “mistake”. Facebook spokesperson said-“The post was accidentally removed and has now been restored. This was a mistake, and we are sorry.” After that Srijato thanked West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the media and others for standing by him. Sharing his post poem controversy experience he said-” I have faced a lot in past one week. From arguments to censure, from censure to quarrel, from the quarrel to insult, from insult to threat. These people were not just supporting me. They were raising voice in favour of democracy… they were taking a stand against fundamentalism and for freedom of speech. I am indebted to them”. The poem has divided the state with a section demanding strict action against the poet while others are in support of his freedom of speech and expression.