Two Years After Facebook Post on Right to Eat Beef, Tribal Activist and Teacher Arrested in Jharkhand

Anand Dutta | May 27, 2019 | 4 min read


Beef post on FB gets Jharkand adivasi academic arrested

Jamshedpur: Two years after Jeetrai Hansada, 44, an Adivasi (tribal) professor posted a justification for the consumption of beef among tribal folk on Facebook, the Jharkhand police arrested him on May 25 on the charges of hurting religious sentiments.

The professor in his FB post had also demanded the repeal of the cow slaughter ban in Jharkhand. Prof. Hansada teaches at the Jamshedpur Cooperative College. (What does the professor teach at the college?) According to Sub-Inspector, Anil Kumar Singh, the arrested professor's social media post stated, “We Adivasis eat beef. We slaughter cows for many of our festivals, rituals and especially, Jaher Dangri Vidhan (the last rites ceremony). So should we stop eating it, end our culture and live like a Hindu? This will never happen. If you really consider Adivasis as an integral part of India then please end this law and for the rights of Adivasis.”

Outraged by the professor's FB post the Jamshedpur unit of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) filed an FIR under IPC Sections 153A, 295A and 505 (for insulting religious feelings and attempts to promote enmity between groups of people.) against Prof. Hansada at the Sakchi Police Station. The professor is lodged in the Ghaghidih Jail. He previously taught at the Jameshedpur Graduate College of Women, but was terminated after the ABVP complained to the principal about his social media posts. Prof. Hansada started teaching at the Jamshedpur Cooperative College in March 2019.

SI, Singh said that the FIR against the professor was registered on May 29, 2017 and the investigation was completed after four days on June 2, 2017. Prof. Hansada’s wife, Mahi Soren said that her husband went to attend a tribal fashion show on May 25, but did not return home. “Many a time, he used to return home the next morning because of work, so I thought that he stayed somewhere in Jamshedpur. When he did not return the next day, I tried calling him but the calls went unanswered. I received a phone call from the Sakchi Police Station that my husband had been arrested,” she said. Soren also mentioned that her husband had been evading arrest ever since an arrest warrant had been issued against him. “The police had come home when the FIR was registered and, asked him to surrender and apply for bail. We applied for bail, but the application was rejected by the Jamshedpur District Court in April, then we appealed in the Jharkhand High Court,” she said.

Prof. Hansada's family had approached BJP leader, Bari Murmu for help, however that proved to be futile. Soren is now trying to find an advocate willing to take up her husband’s case. Jamshedpur’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Anoop Birthare said, “An arrest warrant was issued against him since a long time.The local police arrested him and sent him to jail. The police does not care if people view this arrest as a politically influenced one.”

The professor had since deleted the post that had caused this upheaval. The SSP stated that, “The case was found to be true even after the post was deleted. When the evidence was found against him, the warrant was issued by the court.”

The professor's arrest has taken a political turn with a few tribal rights organisations and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) openly opposing his arrest. JMM’s General Secretary, Surpiyo Bhattacharya said, “Incidents against Muslims, Adivasis and Dalits have spiked after the elections and it is very clear that on whose behest it is being done. We asked our Jamshedpur unit to file a report on this and then we will do our part to oppose this arrest.”

On the other hand, the elected MP, Arjun Munda from Kunti is unaware about the arrest and was reluctant to comment about this issue. “There is no tradition of eating beef among the Munda Adivasi. It could be a tradition among other tribes and I do not have any information about this case, so I do not want to comment about it,” he said.

Atal Pandey, ABVP member who was part of the team that lodged the police complaint against the professor said, “The eating choice of Adivasi does not matter, but it hurts Hindu sentiments.” When asked about people in Goa consuming beef in a BJP-ruled state, Pandey said the BJP and ABVP are different organisations and that the ABVP is opposed to the consumption of beef.

Shyam C. Tudu, the Santali poet said, “There is a a tradition of cow sacrifice in Jaher Dangri festival. After the sacrifice the meat is distributed among villagers and is consumed by the Santali Adivasis. It is our tradition and we will follow it.”

More stories published under