The Allahabad high court rejected the appeals of two persons opposing their detention under the stringent National Security Act (NSA) for burning copies of Ramcharitmanas, a Hindu mythological epic. They were arrested on January 29, 2023.
The two accused, Devendra Pratap Yadav, a doctor, and Suresh Singh Yadav, a retired soldier, were arrested under NSA following a police complaint filed by Satnam Singh Lavy, a BJP worker.
On January 5, a division bench of justices Narendra Kumar Johari and Sangeeta Chandra dismissed Pratap and Singh’s pleas and observed how “burning a dharm granth as per the religious sentiments and faith of the majority community was insulted in a public place in broad daylight was bound to generate anger in the society”.
The Ramcharitmanas narrates the life story of Lord Rama in the Awadhi dialect, spoken mostly in central Uttar Pradesh. It is a retelling of the narrative found in the Sanskrit epic Ramayana.
“There are various examples of past incidents that have taken place in different parts of the country where social and communal harmony have been spoiled due to religious frenzy and as a consequence, harm has been caused to life and property and the development work of the state has been obstructed,” the bench said.
“In a country where people of all religions live in harmony and present a special example of unity in diversity on the world stage, the unwise act of the accused persons had created a possibility of and circumstances for the germination of the seeds of mutual conflict,” the bench added.
On January 29 last year, Pratap and Singh along with other members of Akhil Bharatiya OBC Mahasabha allegedly burnt photocopies of Ramcharitmanas stating it carried objectionable remarks on lower caste, spoke about the varna (caste) system and used derogatory terms to address women.
The incident was in support of a statement made by Samajwadi Party leader Swami Prasad Maurya who demanded the Hindu mythological book be banned. “Such verses which justified caste and gender hierarchy and bias should be deleted from the text of the epic written by 16th-century poet Goswami Tulsidas,” he had said.