The stringent National Security Act (NSA) has been invoked against two people lodged in jail for allegedly burning photocopies of extracts from the Ramcharitmanas, officials said on Monday.
The two -- Mohammed Saleem and Satyendra Kushwaha -- are in jail in connection with a case lodged at the PGI police station in Lucknow on January 29 after photocopies of extracts from the epic were burnt, they said.
In the FIR, Samajwadi Party leader Swami Prasad Maurya, Devendra Pratap Yadav, Yashpal Singh Lodhi, Satyendra Kushwaha, Mahendra Pratap Yadav, Sujit Yadav, Naresh Singh, S S Yadav, Santosh Verma and Saleem were named.
The FIR also mentions unidentified people, referred to as "others".
Maurya, a prominent OBC leader of Uttar Pradesh, had kicked up a controversy by alleging that certain verses of the Ramcharitmanas "insult" a large section of society on the basis of caste and demanded that these be "banned."
The FIR was lodged after Akhil Bharatiya OBC Mahasabha organised a protest in the Vrindavan scheme in Lucknow on January 29, apparently in solidarity with Maurya.
The group claimed that its members only burnt photocopies of pages allegedly carrying "objectionable comments on women and Dalits" in the Ramcharitmanas.
The case was registered at the PGI police station later based on a complaint by Satnam Singh Lavi, who alleged that the act of burning photocopies of the Ramcharitmanas poses a threat to peace, police officials said.
The FIR was registered under IPC sections 142 (unlawful assembly), 143, 153A (wanton vilification or attacks upon the religion, race, place of birth, residence etc), 295 (injuring on defiling place of worship), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings), and 298 (uttering words with deliberate intention to wound religious feelings) among others.
On RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's statement that "everyone is equal in the eyes of God and no caste or sect exists before him. All these things were created by 'pundits (priests), which is wrong", Maurya on Monday reiterated his demand that ”objectionable” portions in the epic be banned or amended.
"Saying that the caste system was created by Pundits (Brahmins), RSS chief Shri Bhagwat has exposed the so-called dharm ke thekedar (self-proclaimed custodians of faith) and hypocrites who abuse women, tribals, Dalits and backward people in the guise of religion. At least now come forward to remove 'objectionable' comments in Ramcharitmanas," Maurya said in a tweet in Hindi.
"If this statement is not out of compulsion, then by showing courage, the central government should be asked to remove the jatisuchak shabd (caste indicative words) calling people vile, lowly and comments humiliating women, tribals, Dalits and backwards. Just by giving statements and covering it up is not going to work,” Maurya added.
Maurya, who was a cabinet minister in the BJP government, had resigned and joined the Samajwadi Party before the 2022 UP assembly polls.