Indian actor arrested for tweet on Karnataka hijab row judge


News Desk

An Indian actor has been arrested for tweeting against one of the judges hearing pleas against a ban on Muslim girls wearing hijabs in schools.

Chetan Kumar was arrested in the southern state of Karnataka after he criticised Justice Krishna Dixit.

The actor wondered why a judge, who has made “disturbing comments” in the past, was hearing the contentious matter.

He was referring to a 2020 order in which the judge had questioned the behaviour of a woman who alleged rape.

Justice Dixit’s comments were later deleted from the order after they resulted in outrage and were described as regressive.

Mr Kumar’s arrest has sparked anger, with many questioning the police’s motive.

A US citizen and a Fulbright scholar, Chetan Kumar is a firebrand Dalit (formerly known as untouchable) rights activist who has been involved in several anti-right wing protests in Karnataka.

Critics say he’s often targeted for his social work – the actor is already facing two police complaints for his remarks against the Brahmin community, who are at the top of India’s Hindu caste hierarchy.

On 16 February, Mr Kumar’s tweet referred to a rape case in which Justice Dixit had granted anticipatory bail to the accused after observing that the woman’s statement was “a bit difficult to believe”.

“The explanation offered by her that after the perpetration of the act she was tired and fell asleep is unbecoming of an Indian woman,” the judge had said in 2020, adding that it was “not the way our women react when they are ravished”.

Sharing a screenshot of the observations, Mr Kumar wrote: “Justice Krishna Dixit made such disturbing comments in a rape case. Now this same judge is determining whether hijabs are acceptable or not in government schools. Does he have the clarity required?”

Police in the city of Bangalore charged Mr Kumar with “intent to incite a class or community to commit offence” and “intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace”, according to ANI news agency.

Police added that the actor would be produced before a judicial magistrate, but did not specify when.

Mr Kumar’s wife Megha said in a live chat on Facebook that the actor “had gone missing from the house”, according to The News Minute. “No one informed us [about his arrest], his phone is switched off, so is our gunman’s [bodyguard],” she alleged.

Many expressed their anger over Mr Kumar’s arrest.

Senior journalist Dilip Mandal asked why the actor was being punished for his comments.

culled from BBC

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