Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Academicians urge Delhi University to revoke punishment to students for screening BBC documentary

On Thursday, a letter was sent to Delhi University Chancellor Yogesh Singh by a group of 59 academicians, urging the revocation of the punishment given to the students who took part in the screening of the BBC documentary critical of PM Narendra Modi.

The letter stated that there is no valid reason for disciplinary action against the students since the documentary is not officially banned in the country.

The letter was signed by Delhi University professors including Apoorvanand, Satish Deshpande, Nandini Sundar, Ira Raja, and Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Sucharita Sen, Visva Bharati professor Sudipta Bhattacharyya amongst others.

“The memorandum regarding the punishment, as published in the media, states that they had violated the ban on screening of the said documentary by the government of India,” read the statement.

“We want to bring to your notice that it is known to all that the documentary was never banned and is still not banned by the government,” the academicians said.

“We need not tell you that university is supposed to be a space where students and teachers feel free to get information from any source, decide for themselves and express themselves freely,” the academicians said. “They are adults and can take decisions for themselves.”

The letter comes in response to the notice issued by the university, which debarred eight students from taking their exams. The students were found to have participated in the screening of the documentary, which the university claimed was “anti-national” and “propagandist.”

The documentary which exposed Narendra Modi’s role in Gujarat Muslim genocide 2002 was widely targeted by Hindutva groups and BJP governments across the country.

The documentary screening was organised on 27 January by several students’ groups. Some of the students were detained by the Delhi Police from the spot, and their details were collected by the university from the FIR.

A committee formed by Delhi University to look into the incident had barred two students — Lokesh Chugh and Ravinder Singh — for a year, and recommended punishment against six others, including Sneha Sarahshaji, Anshul Yadav, Dinesh Kumar, Mishab, Ashutosh.

The punishment for the six students was to write a letter to the administration expressing that they are sorry and won’t repeat the act again, said DU V-C Yogesh Singh Tuesday.

Lokesh is a leader of NSU(I), student wing of Indian National Congress while Ravinder is affiliated with the Bhagat Singh Chatr Ekta Manch (BSCEM).

The students who protested said that the university was denying the freedom of expression and academic freedom of students with such actions.

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