Recently, on the 22nd of September to be precise, there was an uproar on Social Media, especially Twitter. An Assistant Professor from Dayal Singh College(Delhi University) had written an offensive FB post abusing Goddess Durga. According to newspaper reports, he posted this status at 07:43 pm on Friday and despite the ensuing outrage, did not bother to delete it until the next day. Kedar Mandal is yet to post a public apology for his scandalous post.A look at Kedar Mandal’s FB profile reveals that this was not the first time he had posted abusive content. There were numerous other provocative posts, as well as anti-establishment sentiment expressed in public posts. It was only after his college recommended his suspension, that he decided to delete his controversial posts.
This controversy raises certain questions that are yet to be asked: why did an Assistant Professor, who teaches Hindi, choose to write a post abusing Goddess Durga in English? He did this despite his apparent discomfort and lack of proficiency in the chosen language. All his other posts have been written in Hindi. Was he trying to gain cheap publicity and grab eyeballs by posting in English? The second important question is regarding the timing. Why did he decide to abuse Durga in the midst of the holy festival of ‘Navratra’ and ‘Durga Puja’ when the Goddess is worshipped and exalted by most Indians? Was it a deliberate attempt to ridicule Hindus?
Can one think of any rational explanation as to why a well-educated teacher would stoop to denigrating and hurting the faith of others? He may call himself an ‘Atheist’ but that does not give him the license to mock the beliefs of those who profess faith in God! The fact that he happens to be a University teacher is worrisome, such distorted minds should not be allowed to pollute young, impressionable minds. Durga is the embodiment of womanhood, a man who flings abuse at her cannot be said to have a high opinion of the girls in his classroom or his women colleagues in the College Staffroom.
When the post went viral, thousands of people protested and some even lodged formal complaints. The NDTF, a BJP-affiliated teachers body was among the first to register a formal complaint, the ABVP and some lawyers and activists followed suit. Several Delhi University teachers expressed their anger on Social Media. The only silence came from the ‘Freedom of Expression’ Brigade, they kept their lips sealed till the next day when the predictably illogical ‘defence’ began. From putting forward the Offender’s caste to his being physically challenged, the Leftist ‘liberals’ sought to use every excuse to defend the post. If university professors stoop to using the caste card in defence of a person, who has knowingly hurt the religious sentiments of a community, what kind of ‘tolerance’ and respect for religious beliefs can one expect from our academics? A person who wilfully defies all norms of decency cannot claim ‘immunity’ under the cover of caste.
Dayal Singh College, where Kedar Mandal teaches, has suspended him and barred him from entering the college premises. He is said to have tendered a ‘conditional apology’ via e-mail to the college principal IS Bakshi.
According to ‘India Today’, a governing body member revealed that Kedar Mandal claimed to have “got this idea about Goddess Durga from some article published in a magazine.” An inquiry, conducted by the college, is said to have found that this was not his first and only offensive post. Many earlier posts were found to be offensive, in one he had referred to Hindu Gods as ‘ghooskhor’ (bribe-takers).
The apology letter, addressed to the principal, is alleged to be as full of errors as the FB post under discussion. However, any reference to these glaring ‘language deficiencies’ is dismissed by Kedar Mandal’s aggressively unreasonable supporters as irrelevant! Luckily for Kedar Mandal, the BHU incident took away the focus from his case. Otherwise he might not have got away so easily.
‘Dainik Bhaskar’, in a report dated 26th September, claimed that Delhi Police had arrested Kedar Mandal, however there is no confirmation of this report. Kedar Mandal seems to have nursed some political aspirations, he sought a ticket for the Bihar Assembly elections in 2015. During his student days in JNU, he was associated with BAPSA (Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association).
An article in ‘The Speaking Tree’ aptly sums up the massive outrage at this insult, “Beyond doubt, these words of Kedar Mandal are absolutely unpardonable…he has hurt the religious sentiments of crores of Hindus across the globe…. The Most Revered Mother Goddess Durga…the purest and most powerful, our shield against evil…has been associated in the most derogatory manner, that too in the very country whose existence in the world is primarily rooted in the tenets of its Dharma, rich history, culture and heritage.” Sadly, an educationist like Mandal is “playing with our country’s future by misinterpreting the religious contexts in this frivolous manner. God knows what this evil mind preaches to the young citizens of India behind the closed doors of his classroom.”