A woman named Shilpa Singh who works as an Assistant Professor at a law college in Goa has been booked for hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus by posting derogatory comments against women wearing Mangalsutra on Facebook. According to reports, an FIR was lodged against Shilpa Singh on the complaint of Rajiv Jha, a resident of Ponda.
On October 31, 2020, Jha had filed a complaint with the cyber cell of Goa police against Shilpa Singh with respect to a Facebook post dated April 21, 2020, in which she had allegedly compared women wearing Mangalsutra to chained dogs while criticising patriarchy and social dogma. In his complaint, Jha had stated that Singh, whos teaches political science at VM Salgaocar College of Law, Panaji, should be booked for “passing derogatory comments on social media mocking Hindu religion, traditions, faith and belief”.
Before that, a complaint was filed by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) to VM Salgaocar College of Law on October 9 seeking Singh’s termination stating that she was promoting hateful thoughts against a particular religion during her online lectures. The college refused to act on ABVP’s complaint stating that it did not have the locus standi to raise objections against her teaching. It also refused to issue a termination order against Singh.
Responding to ABVP’s complaint, Singh had told the college that the complaint was an attempt to tarnish her academic credentials. Singh has also filed a complaint with the police after she allegedly received abusive and threatening messages after Jha’s abusive social media post on October 30.
Two FIRs have been registered by police on the basis of complaints filed by Rajiv Jha and Shilpa Singh. “Shilpa Singh has been booked under IPC section 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings). Rajiv Jha, a resident of Ponda has been booked under IPC sections 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke break of peace), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (insulting modesty of woman)”, told SP (North Goa) Utkrisht Prasoon.
“The above noted person having a Facebook profile in the name of Shilpa Surendra Pratap Singh knowingly uploaded a post through the Facebook account in the public domain with deliberate and malicious intention outraged religious feelings of the complainant, thereby insulted religious belief, thus committed offence under section 295 A IPC” , reads the FIR filed against Singh.
Shilpa Singh is Hinduphobic: Rajiv Jha
Rajiv Jha told the Indian Express that he and Singh are not Facebook friends but they have mutual friends. He said that after ABVP’s complaint against Singh, he saw her Facebook post. “I first approached Panaji police on October 28 and a written note asked that she should seek a public apology. Since they (police) didn’t react…we again went with a new complaint the next day (October 29)”, said Jha. “If she has thoughts (on religion), she should keep it to herself, and not publicise on social media. She is a professor; if this is what she writes here, I wonder what she must be teaching her students”, he added.
Jha said that organisations like Rashtriya Hindu Yuva Vahini, its women’s wing, Parshuram Gomantak Sena and Brahmin Parishad are supporting him.
I see myself as an intellectual: Shilpa Singh
Defending her views, Shilpa Singh termed the FIR a conspiracy to defame, humiliate, and break her down. “As education is not merely rote learning, I try my best to impact critical tools necessary for students of political science to understand and analyse the complexities, contradictions and emergent power relations animating the realm of politics in the world. As a teacher, I would not be fulfilling my duty, if I teach them in a sterile manner without enriching my students with real life examples that supplement the theoretical content of their source…I suspect that having failed at intimidating me at my workplace and having failed to humiliate me by getting me sacked, the present day demand for FIR and police action against me on account of my opinion on social media is just another ploy in the course of a conspiracy to defame, humiliate and break me down”, she said.
Calling herself an “intellectual”, Singh posted an apology on Facebook on November 8 regarding her post on Mangalsutra. In her Facebook apology she said that her views were taken out of context. She wrote, ” I wish to express my regret to my fellow women if any of my Facebook posts have hurt and offended them. I am aware that one of my Facebook posts was in the eye of the storm due to my personal views on Mangalsutra and Burqa and it was taken totally out of context”.
She said that she would continue to “fight” and raise her voice against patriarchy and women’s oppression and would continue her fight for women’s equality and freedom.