“This will forever be a black mark on my career and hinder my growth,” says BP Mahesh Chandra Guru, a Mysuru University professor who was recently released on bail in connection with two cases filed against him for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.
The 59-year-old mass media and communications professor was suspended from the university after he was arrested and jailed in June 2016. A lower court granted him bail on June 24 but his suspension was only revoked on July 7 after pressure from progressive thinkers and rationalists. However, he hasn’t received an official order yet.
Calling the suspension a professional inconvenience, Prof Guru said that the black spot on his career would remain until the Karnataka High Court quashed the FIRs against him.
“Their main intention is to stop me from becoming the vice-chancellor or from getting any higher positions. But for me ideology is more important for me than opportunity. So I am not deterred by these things,” says Prof. Guru. He has been a lecturer for 35 years and claims that he is the first Indian Buddhist media scholar.
While delivering lectures at two private events in 2015, the professor allegedly made statements on behaviour of the Hindu God Rama and the Bhagavad Gita. Two cases were filed against him.
In January 2015 Prof. Guru had critically examined Rama’s role in human rights protection at a talk held at the university’s Academic Staff College.
“I ridiculed Rama for sending Sita to the forest mercilessly and neglecting his own children. It is a serious violation of human rights. This is making the society regressive,” Guru said. He pointed out that he was not the only person to examine Ram this way. “I call a spade a spade. If right-wing organisations don’t like it then there is a serious issue with them,” Guru told The News Minute.
A person named Ravishankar, President of Karunada Sene, lodged a complaint against Prof Guru at the behest of Hindu fundamentalists for hurting their religious sentiments.
In an open discussion on the Bhagvad Gita at another Academic Staff event a month later, Guru had stated that the Bhagavad Gita was a symbol of inequality. He urged the people to follow the Constitution of India which aims at creating a welfare state.
“For this event we had invited VHP leader Praveen Togadia, BJP MLA CT Ravi, and other BJP and right-wing group leaders too. But none of them turned up,” he said. He said “vested interests” in the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had filed a complaint under IPC section 295A.
“I was in judicial custody for 7 days for no fault of mine,” he said. Obtaining bail proved difficult as he could not appear before the court because he had not been given the court summons. “I did not receive a single summons notice. It is foul-play on the part of the police. I contested this in court but haven’t received a response yet,” he said.
“Periyar and Phule have condemned these Hindu epics. The current government is filled with Hindu fundamentalists which promotes intolerance and that is why there have been so many issues like JNU, FTII and Hyderabad University etc.”