A history professor with Delhi University's Hindu College was arrested last night over a social media post that appeared to question claims of a 'Shivling' found inside Varanasi's Gyanvapi mosque complex, police said.
Ratan Lal, an associate professor, was arrested by officers of north Delhi's Cyber Police Station. He is accused of promoting enmity between groups on grounds of religion and committing "acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony".
Mr Lal was produced in court this afternoon and his advocate moved a bail application.
The FIR against Mr Lal was registered Tuesday night following a police complaint by a Delhi-based lawyer. In his complaint, advocate Vineet Jindal said Mr Lal recently shared a "derogatory, inciting and provocative tweet on the Shivling".
The statement made by Mr Lal in a tweet is "instigating and provoking", the lawyer said in the complaint. The issue is very sensitive in nature and is pending before the court, he added.
Defending his post earlier, Mr Lal had said, "In India, if you speak about anything, someone or the other's sentiment will be hurt. So this is nothing new. I am a historian and have made several observations. As I wrote them down, I have used very guarded language in my post and still this. I will defend myself."
Last week, Mr Lal had tweeted that his 20-year-son was receiving threats on Facebook messenger after his tweet on the Gyanvapi mosque issue.
Besides his teaching job, Mr Lal is the founder and editor-in-chief of Ambedkarnama, a news portal focusing on Dalit issues. His Twitter bio also describes him as an "activist, writer and a child of Ambedkariate Revolution".
Congress leader Digivijaya Singh has condemned the professor's arrest.
"I strongly condemn Prof Ratn Lal's arrest. He has the Constitutional Right of opinion and expression," he tweeted.