Maharashtra: Professor, 5 students held for play based on ‘Ramleela’ get bail

The play was part of a classroom exercise, which was kept at the open theatre at the centre, a statement Savitribai Phule Pune University informed.

Pune: A professor and five students of Pune University were arrested for allegedly hurting religious sentiments by staging a play based on ‘Ramleela’ that reportedly had objectionable dialogues and scenes, police said on Saturday.

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Dr Pravin Bhole, head of the department of the Lalit Kala Kendra, and students Bhavesh Patil, Jay Pednekar, Prathamesh Sawant, Rishikesh Dalvi and Yash Chikhle were produced in court and later released on bail, the official added.

Functionaries of the RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and students of the Pune University’s Lalit Kala Kendra had entered into a scuffle over the play staged on Friday evening.

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The play by the Lalit Kala Kendra, officially called the Centre for Performing Arts, was based on the backstage banter of actors who perform various roles in ‘Ramleela’.

On a complaint lodged by ABVP functionary Harshvardhan Harpude, a case was registered under section 295 (A) (deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class) and other relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code, inspector Ankush Chintaman of Chaturshringi police station said.

As per the first information report (FIR), in the play, a male artiste portraying Sita was shown smoking a cigarette and using abusive language.

The FIR stated that when members of the ABVP took objection to the play and stopped the performance, the artists heckled and assaulted them.

In a statement, the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) administration said it did not support the mockery of icons and said it apologises if sentiments were hurt.

The SPPU has formed a ‘fact-finding committee’ headed by a retired district judge to inquire into the incident and action will be taken once its report is received, the statement added.

The play was part of a classroom exercise, which was kept at the open theatre at the centre, the SPPU statement informed.

Meanwhile, some members of Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party, threw ink and ransacked a board at the Lalit Kala Kendra.

BJYM president Karan Misal said the play had been staged by students to instigate and seek attention.

“How can the head of the department of the centre approve such scripts,” he asked.

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