Academics extend solidarity with Kerala professor who calls RSS ‘a proto-fascist org’ in class

A number of academics have signed a statement in unequivocal support of a Kerala Central University professor who is being targeted by the right wing after he referred to Sangh parivar as proto-fascist in one of his lectures.

Dr,. Gilbert Sebastian, an assistant professor at the Department of International Relations and Political Science in the university, received support from the academics, authors and other concerned citizens for the threats from Hindu fringe groups he had to over for expressing his opinion in an academic space.

“Sebastian, an Asst Prof at Department of International Relations and Political Science, at the university was attempting to have an academic discussion with his students on whether India under Modi gov, can be considered a proto-fascist state?
Classrooms are meant to be platforms for discussions and interventions regarding the socio- political conditions of the country. But the Sangh Parivar use educational institutions as a platform to spread the Hindutva terror. The Sangh has always remained intolerant towards differences and has very evidently been opposing and suppressing dissent voices. Post 2014, under the modi gov, the country has witnessed an explicit suppression of academic freedom. The sangh Parivar and their stooges has been trying to curb discussions and conversations thereby making classrooms less academic and more convenient to exercise their agenda of hatred,” read the joint statement issued by a group of academics.

According to them, Dr. Sebastian is another victim of this intolerance towards open discussions.

In an online class held on 19 April, Gilbert Sebastian said Spain under General Franco, Portugal under Salazar, Argentina under Juan Peron, Chile under Pinochet, the apartheid regime in South Africa, and the Hutu ultranationalist and supremacist movement of Rwanda in the early 1990s could be considered as proto-fascist, and posed a question whether India under Narendra Modi since 2014 was one.

Maktoob got access to the PowerPoint slides which the ABVP had claimed to complain against him.

“The RSS and its affiliate organisation, together called as the Sangh Parivar meaning the Sangh family (including the BJP) in India can also be considered proto-fascist,” he said in one of the PowerPoint slides.

The Vice Chancellor of the university has called for an enquiry into the matter after being directed by the UGC and Ministry of Human Resources Development on receiving complaints from ABVP.

“The irresponsibility shown by the UGC and the ministry of human resources development in acting without checking into the facts is to be questioned. This very gesture from the part of the administration validates the question of India stooping into a proto-fascist state,” the statement says.

The academics said they stand with Dr. Sebastian and demand immediate action to be taken against ABVP for targeting the professor.

They also condemned the irresponsible and biased decision of the university administration, UGC and Ministry of Human Resources Development to take action against the professor for simply exercising his right to free speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution of this country.

“We also stand for rebuilding fearless and democratic academic spaces,” concludes the statement.

The signatories include prominent author K. Satchidanandan, Ashraf Kunnummal (University of Johannesburg), feminist scholar J. Devika, JNU professor A.K. Ramakrishnan, Jenny Rowena, Prem Kumar Vijayan, Manorajan Mohanty, Karan Gabriel and Thameem T (University of Delhi) , PK Abdul Rahiman and OK Santhosh (University of Madras), Walter Fernandes (Director, North Eastern Social Research centre, Guwahati), MH Ilyas (MG University), KS Madhavan and Umar Tharamel (University of calicut), Saduque PK (CEDEC NISWASS Bhubaneswar) and Fraternity Movement leaders Shamseer Ibrahim and Najda Raihan.