Outrage as Indian actor arrested for tweeting about hijab judge | Human Rights News
Chetan Kumar had commented that the judge overseeing the hijab ban case had previously made “disturbing comments” in a rape case.
Police in the southern Indian state of Karnataka arrested actor and activist Chetan Kumar over a tweet criticizing one of the judges hearing pleas against the hijab ban in schools, sparking public online outrage.
The police action comes a week after Kumar, a US citizen, asked in a Twitter post whether Judge Krishna Dixit had ‘the clarity required’ to oversee the hijab case after he made ‘disturbing comments’ in a rape case.
This is a tweet I wrote almost two years ago regarding a Karnataka High Court ruling
Judge Krishna Dixit made such disturbing comments in rape case
Now that same judge is determining whether #hijabs are acceptable or not in government schools
Does it have the required clarity? pic.twitter.com/Vg8VRXmJTW
— Chetan Kumar Ahimsa / ಚೇತನ್ ಅಹಿಂಸಾ (@ChetanAhimsa) February 16, 2022
“Judge Krishna Dixit made such disturbing comments in a rape case. Now that same judge is determining whether or not hijabs are acceptable in public schools. Does it have the required clarity? Kumar wrote on Twitter last week.
Kumar’s tweet from around two years ago referred to Dixit granting pre-arrest bail to the accused rapist after he claimed the woman’s statement was “a little hard to believe”.
“The explanation offered by her that after the commission of the act she was tired and fell asleep is unbecoming of an Indian woman,” the judge said in 2020. He added that it was ” not the way our women react when they are raped.”
Kumar’s wife, Megha, conducted a Facebook live on Tuesday night after his arrest and said no one informed the family of the arrest or the reason, the Hindustan Times reported.
On Tuesday evening, the police issued a statement, announcing that Kumar had been arrested for his tweet under the title “Intent to incite a class or a community to commit an offense against another class or community” and for “intentionally insulting, provocative thus any person to break the public peace” of the Indian Penal Code, local news reported.
The hijab ban in colleges in Karnataka state has sparked a major struggle amid growing concerns that attacks on Muslim symbols and practices are part of the broader far-right Hindu agenda consisting of to impose majority values on minorities.
A three-judge panel of the Karnataka High Court is hearing various petitions challenging the ban.
Earlier this month, Muslim female students wearing the hijab were barred from entering schools and colleges across the state.
Following Kumar’s arrest, many took to Twitter to denounce the authorities’ decision and called for the actor’s immediate release.
Former Indian actress and politician Divya Spandana, also known as Ramya, tweeted, “What’s wrong with this tweet for police to arrest Chetan?”
Twitter user Sankul Sonawane wrote that Kumar “has been targeted for months by [Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party] BJP in Karnataka for working to uplift the marginalized!
“The witch hunt must end and he must be freed immediately!”
In solidarity with the actor @ChetanAhimsa who was arrested for being a vocal Ambedkarite. He has been targeted for months by the BJP in Karnataka for working to uplift the marginalized! The witch hunt must stop and he must be released immediately!
— Sankul Sonawane (@Sankul333) February 23, 2022
Writer Suraj Kumar Bauddh tweeted in favor of Kumar, saying, “This is a very cowardly and cheap act by the government.”
Actor @ChetanAhimsa is an Ambedkarite who was arrested for criticizing the misogynistic remark of Judge K’taka HC Krishna Dixit. This is a very cowardly and cheap act of government. We support you brother. Jai Bhim. pic.twitter.com/GbfmVOGjtt
— Suraj Kumar Bauddh (@SurajKrBauddh) February 22, 2022