What “interference”?

In course of her much-lauded speech, Smriti Irani challenged the opposition to prove their allegation of Hindutva interference in educational institutions. A day later, this happened:

JAMMU: Amid debate over the freedom of expression in India, Political Science department of University of Jammu is under fire from rightwing BJP for having organised a seminar, with the authorities forced to seek an explanation from its head.
Sources told Kashmir Reader that the vice-chancellor (VC) of the university, Prof R D Sharma, has sought a detailed explanation from the Political Science head of the department (HoD) about the seminar themed ‘Pluralism in J&K: Crisis and Way Forward’.
It was organised by a Non-Governmental Organisation in collaboration with the department. Dean Academic Affairs (DAA) of the varsity, Prof Poonam Dhawan, had addressed its inaugural session.


The pressure created on the VC can be gauged from the fact that a press conference was addressed by BJP leader and former chief of Jammu Mukti Morcha (JMM), Prof Verinder Gupta.

He levelled serious allegations on the organisers of the event, calling all of them “anti-nationals”. He requested governor N N Vohra to take action against them.

The JMM is a creation of RSS. It was formed after BJP-led NDA abandoned the idea of trifurcating Jammu and Kashmir when it came into power in India for the first time in 1998.

Gupta joined BJP and is spokesperson of the party.

He also called upon the governor and asked him to take note of such events happening in the campus and initiate appropriate action against the organisers.

The sources said that several top leaders of RSS and BJP subsequently called the VC and asked him to take action against the department.

See any parallel with Bhandaru Dattatreya’s intervention that triggered the chain of events leading to Rohit Vemula’s suicide?

And a day after that, this happened:

If you’ve ever absent-mindedly shared or liked something on social media, Dr Rajesh Misra’s tale should be a cautionary one. Misra, a professor of sociology at the University of Lucknow, shared a link on his Facebook wall on Tuesday. It was an impassioned op-ed by Apoorvanand, a professor at Delhi University which argued that by rebelling and dissenting, “Umar Khalid is the son every parent should desire and be proud of”.

This is, however, not a very good time to rebel and dissent. While Khalid has been arrested, charged with sedition against the government, Misra faced violent protests over his decision to simply share Apoorvanand’s article. Students associated with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s student wing, disrupted Misra’s classes and even burnt his effigy. Later, Lucknow University even sought an explanation from Misra for his habits of social media sharing.

Dr Mishra’s sharing of a link perhaps exemplifies those “excessive rights” ABVP national secretary Sunil Ambekar was arguing against the other day.

And earlier, in September 2015, this happened (again, note the parallels — a ‘complaint’ comes from some quarters, a Union minister endorses it, and the HRD ministry demands action):

According to documents in Newslaundry’s possession, the ministry, in September last year (2015), asked the Pondicherry University to probe a complaint regarding “Islamisation” of the university. The complaint, filed by a Delhi-based organisation called Patriots Forum, alleges that the university had been Islamised under one of its former vice-chancellors, JAK Tareen. Tareen, incidentally, retired more than two years ago in February, 2013.

This committee, then, submitted a report that gave a clean chit to Tareen, disproving all allegations leveled against him. The report has been accessed by Newslaundry.

On the accusation of the university being home to a disproportionately high number of Muslim teachers, the committee remarks that the university has “only 22 faculty members of the Muslim community as on date”, accounting for 5.9 per cent of the total teaching staff. “The committee felt that the percentage in no way reflects alarming trend of Islamisation,” the report states.

But of course, the allegation was based on “research” — of the sort, presumably, that recently found 3000 condoms in use daily on the JNU campus, and determined that 50% of all rapes in Delhi were carried out by JNU students.

DC Nath, president of Patriots Forum – “a group of like minded Members dedicated and devoted to Preservation and Promotion of ancient Indic culture , its heritage and values [sic]” – told Newslaundry that his complaint was based on a “research paper” prepared by a “research organisation” called IndiaFacts, based in Bangalore. “We prepared a brief summary of the research done by them and forwarded it to the HRD Ministry, marking the National Security Advisor, Union Home Secretary, the Prime Minister’s Office and BJP president among others,” said Nath. Nath is a retired Indian Police Service officer and has served as the Special Director of the Intelligence Bureau.

But there is no BJP interference. If you discount this:

The Pondicherry University’s committee report reveals that Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Minister of State for Food Processing Industries, also wrote to the HRD minister, endorsing the complaint. Jyoti wasn’t available for comment.

PS: From Ujjain, this:

This is what they do: create an “issue” out of thin air. Get sundry ministers involved. File police cases. Raise the flag, label the other as “anti-national”. And then the violence — which, as ABVP office bearer Ambekar says, is just a manifestation of janakrosh.

Or looked at another way, a handy means of ensuring that VCs and other officials are suitably intimidated and forced to toe the ABVP/Parivar line.

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  1. Pingback: Smriti Irani does not interfere | Smoke Signals

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