A professor working at the Mahatma Gandhi Central University, Motihari was allegedly attacked on 17 August 2018 for a post criticising former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Facebook.
Sanjay Kumar, Assistant Professor in the Sociology department of the Mahatma Gandhi Central University, Motihari, received several injuries and was taken to AIIMS Patna.
Kumar had posted a comment in response to a post that was critical of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
In the comments section, Kumar had written, ‘Fascivad ke ek Yug ki samapti. Atal ji anant yatra par nikle (The end of an era of fascism. Atal ji embarks on another journey)‘.
Why Was He Attacked?
What we know is that Kumar was allegedly attacked for his anti-Vajpayee comment on Facebook.
Talking to The Quint, Mrityunjay, a student at the university who had rushed to the spot after hearing about the attack, said that the professor was getting threat calls from unknown numbers since morning.
"Sir (Sanjay Kumar) had posted about Vajpayee ji last night on Facebook which had resulted in trolling right away. This morning, he got a call from an unknown number. Though the caller did not identify himself, he called Sir a ‘deshdrohi’ and also threatened him with dire consequences." - Mrityunjay (Student, Mahatma Gandhi Central University, Motihari)
The caller had also referred to the professor as a ‘friend of the likes of Kanhaiya Kumar’.
What we don’t know however, is the identity of the 10-12 attackers, who reportedly barged into the professor’s flat and attacked him.
What we know is that around 1:30 pm on 17 August, a group of 10-12 men barged into the professor’s flat and assaulted him.
According to Mrityunjay, the goon who attacked the professor were wielding swords and sticks, they dragged the professor from his flat on the third floor to the road and then poured petrol on him.
He was reportedly let off when he pleaded with his attackers. The attackers finally left the place after warning the professor that he should resign from his post as soon as possible.
Additionally, Vikram, a student who was trying to click photos and record videos of the incident on his mobile phone, has allegedly been kidnapped.
What we don’t know, however, is if the attackers have been arrested, if they belonged to a specific organization, party, or school of thought.
We also don’t know whether the student, who was allegedly kidnapped after attempting to click pictures and videos of the incident, has been found.
What Does the Complaint Letter State?
In his complaint to the police, the professor has named Rahul R Pandey, Aman Bihari Vajpayee and Sunny Vajpayee as those who led the group of attackers.
The letter also states that the professor was threatened and while beating him the attackers said, “Since you speak against the VC, Gyaneshwar Gautam and Sanjay Kumar SIngh (Bureau chief, Dainik Bhaskar), you should resign immediately otherwise we will burn you alive.”
Has the Police Arrested Anyone?
The Indian Express has reported that 12 people have been booked by the police. These include Sanjay Kumar Singh, local bureau chief of Dainik Bhaskar.
What Action Has Been Taken?
What we know is that a complaint has been filed on behalf of the professor, in which Sanjay Kumar has claimed that he has received such threatening calls earlier as well for another post.
Mrityunjay Kumar, who is a student of Sanjay Kumar, confirmed that the professor had also got threat calls few days ago after he had posted about the attack on JNU student Umar Khalid.
What we don’t know, however, is whether the people who were making these threat calls to the professor, are the same as the ones who had attacked him.
According to Mrityunjay Kumar, all was not well between the Vice Chancellor of the Mahatma Gandhi Central Univerity (Motihari) and faculty. The entire faculty was agitating since 29 May 2018, demanding that the roster for appointment should be followed by the Vice Chancellor. Despite their differences against the college administration, teachers had decided to continue with classes as usual.
Speaking to The Quint, Professor Apoorvanand who teaches at the Delhi University said, “Goondaism has been unleashed in the name of nationalism”. While former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was known for taking criticism in his stride, the incident in Motihari shows how much the space has shrunk for dissent. This is a developing story.
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