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Writers, social activists write to Goa Guv over FIR against academic

PUNJAB NEW EXPRESS | November 12, 2020 12:19 PM

PANAJI: Thirty-seven writers, lawyers, and academics in Goa have written to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to express concern over the registration of an FIR against a woman Assistant Professor at a law college over a Facebook post.

They said it was a "systematic repression of academic freedom and politically motivated move to foment communal discord and to disrupt peace in the coastal state".

"We see the attack on Shilpa Singh as a systematic repression of academic freedom, considering that she has been making a case for the same in her speeches and writings, " the letter states.

The development after Goa Police on November 9 booked Shilpa Singh, who teaches at the VM Salgaocar College of Law in Panaji, on charges of outraging religious sentiments through a Facebook post, after a complaint was filed against her by one Rajiv Jha for allegedly slandering Hindu religion.

Incidentally, police also registered an FIR against Jha, who was accused by Singh of molestation and outraging her modesty through comments on Facebook. Jha has been booked under Sections 504 (insult), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (outraging modesty) of the IPC based on the complaint filed by Shilpa Singh.

The letter has been signed by writers like Padmashri Dr Maria Aurora Couto, academics Prof Peter de Souza and Rahul Tripathi, lawyers Nandita Haksar, Cleofato Coutinho, Caroline Colaco, and social activists Sabina Martins, Pravin Sabnis, and Abhijeet Prabhudessai etc.

The letter dubbed the FIR against Singh as "frivolous" and "ill-founded" and demanded protection for Singh.

"We demand that given the nature of the threats received, rather than file frivolous and ill-founded FIRs, the authorities, including police, should provide Singh with adequate protection round the clock. It is the duty of the state to protect the constitutional right of freedom of expression, and this means protecting those who express their truthful opinion, " the letter added.

The FIR follows accusations against Singh that her controversial Facebook post criticised conservative traditions in Hinduism and Islam by making objectionable references to the practice of wearing a 'mangalsutra' and donning a 'burqa' respectively.

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