Humanists and rationalists in Hyderabad on Friday expressed solidarity with popular human rights activist Babu Gogineni, condemning the 'malicious attempt of religious fundamentalists' to get a police case registered against him.
Members of the South Asian Humanist Association, Science for Society, Jana Vignana Vedika and Indian Humanists held a joint press meet at the press club in Somajiguda, where lawyers representing Babu were present. Film critic and actor Mahesh Kathi was also present.
Earlier this week, Babu Gogineni was booked by the Madhapur police for ‘sedition’ and ‘hurting religious sentiments’, among other charges.
The petitioner, Veera Narayana Chowdary, claimed that his religious sentiments were hurt after watching Babu’s earlier speeches, which prompted him to file the case.
The case was registered under Sections 121 (waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the Government of India), 124a (sedition), 153a (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 153b (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 292 (obscenity), 293 (sale, etc, of obscene objects to young person), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 505 (statements conducing public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code.
Claiming that Babu was guaranteed his rights under the Freedom of Expression, the lawyers expressed confidence that the case would not stand in court.
"The police which is investigating the case will come to a conclusion on how many charges will stand after scrutiny and how many will not, following which they will approach the court," one of the lawyers explained.
A contestant on the TV reality show Bigg Boss 2 Telugu, Babu is presently living in the Bigg Boss house.
"What pains us is that this attack has come at a time when Babu can't defend himself. This is why, all of us have gathered here to express solidarity. Besides being a personal attack on Babu, this is also an attack on humanism and rationalism," the lawyer added.
Speaking to reporters, Jana Chaitanya Vedika president Lakshman Reddy said, "I have known Babu for a long time and he has worked around the world for the spirit of humanism and human rights. We have visited several villages and spoken about the ills of superstition, irrespective of religion. When such a person is attacked and booked with a police case, we condemn this. We are all behind him and will continue to support him."
This came a day after several allies of Babu met with Cyberabad Police Commissioner VC Sajjanar and submitted a representation to him on the matter. They said that the senior police officer assured them that he would look into the merit of the case and take appropriate action.
The lawyers present also explained that the petitioner, Veera Narayana Chowdary, had filed a private complaint in court, following which the police were ordered to look into the allegations.
As it was a court order, the police first registered a case and then began investigation. The police also informed that the petitioner was yet to submit his evidence to them.
Veera claimed that he had submitted video footage of Babu’s speeches criticising Hindu ‘traditions’ in speeches made abroad, to the court.
“Freedom of speech is there, but it should not hurt the sentiments of believers,” he claimed.