A Dalit professor and known rationalist was beaten up and severely injured on Saturday night by a group of suspected Sangh parivar activists at Mandirbazar in South 24-Parganas, 60km from Calcutta.
Sonarpur resident Sudhakar Sardar, 53, attached to the education department at Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose College in Calcutta, was punched and kicked by at least eight men who had barged into an open-air cultural event he was attending.
He was dragged to a nearby temple, beaten again, and left with what a hospital said were injuries to the head, chest and abdomen.
Sardar had in a Facebook post last month commented on Lord Krishna and his Gopinis, and recently advised people that Shraddho ceremonies were a solemn affair and not an excuse to show off their wealth.
Mandirbazar police have registered a case against eight people on a complaint from Ramprasad Halder, Sardar’s fellow member from the Dalit rationalist organisation Manusher Pashey.
None of the accused, who police said were Sangh parivar activists, had been arrested till late Sunday night. They have gone into hiding, an officer said.
The attack happened around 8pm, a little after a recitation competition had ended at the event organised by Manusher Pashey. The others present didn’t dare resist the assault, apparently because of the attackers’ reputation as rowdies
From the Naiyerhat primary health centre, Sardar was referred to the state-run Diamond Harbour Super-Specialty Hospital.
“The patient suffered multiple injuries on his head, chest and abdomen. We have advised several examinations including a CT scan and X-ray.... His condition is stable,” a hospital source said.
Sardar told The Telegraph over the phone from his hospital bed: “It appears that I was attacked for my rationalistic observations about Hindu rituals. Some RSS activists had threatened me earlier, but I was never afraid.
“A post on Lord Krishna on Janmashtami (in mid-August) had made them furious. I realised the post had hurt people and eventually removed it.”
Police and local people said Sardar’s “awareness drive” on the Shraddho ceremony had angered some people.
“I had only told people to avoid unnecessary display of wealth in the name Shraddho and, instead, conduct the ritual as a way of paying respect to the departed soul,” Sardar said.
Praddyut Baidya, president of the BJP’s Mathurapur unit whose area of operations includes Mandirbazar, said he had not heard about the incident.
“The BJP doesn’t support such attacks. Everyone has the freedom to express their opinions. But one must be careful not to hurt the emotions or faith of others,” he said