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Symbiosis teacher remanded to police custody for a day | Pune News

The 43-year-old faculty member of Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce (SCAC) who was arrested on Thursday afternoon for allegedly making objectionable remarks about Hindu deities in class and outraging religious sentiments was, on Friday, remanded to police custody for one day by a court in Pune.

The Deccan Gymkhana Police had, Thursday, arrested Ashok Sopan Dhole (43), who teaches Hindi at SCAC, following a complaint filed by Ravindra Padwal (30), who identifies himself as a member of ‘Samast Hindu Bandhav’. Police booked Dhole under IPC Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts that are intended to outrage religious feelings). Hours before he was booked and arrested by the police, Dhole, who has been teaching at the college since 2005, was suspended by the college authorities Wednesday.

On Friday afternoon Dhole was produced before the court where police sought his custody for five days. Investigating officer, Inspector Shankar Salunkhe told the court they needed remand of the accused to probe why the accused made such statements and whether the has the backing of any group or organisation.”

Defence lawyers Amol Dange, Hrishikesh Subhedar and Mahesh Bade argued that police did not serve Dhole a notice under the Criminal Procedure Code section 41A to appear before them. They argued that a custody is required when recovery of any items is pending from the accused and that in this case there was none. They also argued that the accused has been teaching at the institute for a long time and there has been no complaint against him in the past. After hearing arguments from prosecution and defence lawyers, the court remanded him to police custody till Saturday.

Police took action against Dhole after a purported video clip of him, reportedly from a lecture for Class 12 held on July 25, was circulated on social media. “The accused has insulted Hindu religion and has intentionally hurt religious sentiments, mine and that of others,” the FIR by Padwal says.

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Speaking to The Indian Express before his arrest, Dhole had said on Thursday afternoon, “I was teaching Bhakti Rasa… I wanted to convey that we can follow any religion because they are all one and equal. But some students were miffed with me as I had sent them out of class a couple of times for the nuisance they created, and they have amplified and construed my comments differently… They are students and I do not want to escalate the matter.”

Among various organisations that approached the police was Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. On Friday, The Indian Express spoke to the complainant Ravindra Padwal of Samast Hindu Bandhav. “We decided to raise the issue after some students brought the video to our notice.”

Principal of SCAC Hrishikesh Soman said, “We have asked him (Dhole) to give an explanation. As per the rules, we have to give him some time.” A college student said on condition of anonymity, “What happened here was more a matter of students holding a personal grudge with him from before. They were trying to provoke him.”
Other faculty members refused to comment on the matter.

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