KOLKATA: Bengali poet Srijato Bandopadhyay, who has created a furore with his poem on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, may soon be arrested and tried for allegedly hurting Hindu sentiments.
Siliguri police has slapped non-bailable charges under Sections 295A (deliberate or malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 57 of Information Technology Act against Srijato on Wednesday. Section 295A prescribes a minimum jail term of 3 years along with a variable fine.
An FIR was booked against Srijato on Tuesday for his poem titled Curse. Complainant Arnab Sarkar (20) of hardline group Hindu Samhati said that the last line of the poem has hurt Hindu sentiments. In the last line, the 42-year-old poet wrote: “As long as women are raped by digging up their graves, condoms should be worn on trishuls”.
According to sources, the Cyber Crime Cell of the Siliguri Police has contacted Facebook authorities to ascertain the hardware from which the poem was uploaded on March 19, the day Yogi Adityanath was sworn as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. “As soon as we get confirmation of the hardware and authenticity of the account from which the poem was uploaded, the writer will be arrested,” a police official of Siliguri Commissionerate told New Indian Express.
Srijato’s poem has sharply divided the public, especially the youth of West Bengal. A large section feels that Srijato is unjustified when he writes about the Hindu extremist politics of Uttar Pradesh but refuses to speak a word about the communal violence that had erupted in at least half a dozen places throughout West Bengal in the past few months, for which allegedly ‘Muslim appeasement policies’ of Mamata Banerjee government have been blamed. The section of people who think the case against Srijato is justified has invented a moniker for him: “Condom Poet”, in reference to the last line of his poem.
However, an equally large section feels that Srijato has the right to express himself in the words he wants and have extended solidarity with him, with Students Federation of India (SFI) -- the students’ wing of CPM -- bringing out marches in Siliguri in the poet’s support.
Some of Srijato’s supporters have compared him with the poets of the ‘Hungryalist movement’ of 1960s Bengal, several of whom such as Shakti Chattopadhyay, Malay Roy Choudhury, Samir Roychoudhury and Debi Roy (alias Haradhon Dhara) were jailed and sedition charges pressed by the incumbent government for their art in the form of poems and paintings, which were perceived as obscene and vulgar.
Meanwhile, repeated attempts to contact the poet have gone in vain, with initially calls going unanswered and later the phone being switched off.