In a letter to Professor Anand Bhalerao, vice chancellor of Central University Rajasthan, PUCL Rajasthan raised their concerns over the suspension of some students of the Central University Rajasthan for watching BBC critical of PM Narendra Modi.
At least eleven students were suspended in the university, after ABVP, the student wing of Hindutva militant group RSS, posted a list of 24 students – who watched the documentary – and hurled abuses against the students while demanding strict actions against them.
“The PUCL is clear that no screening of any film happened on the 26th of January 2023. And the question of individual viewing on mobiles is a private matter and comes within right to privacy of the students. In any case the BBC Documentary, India: the Modi question has only been blocked from twitter, YouTube and some other intermediaries. This has been done by using the emergency clause of the IT rules of 2009. The legal action undertaken is only to deny access of the film in India via these platforms. But there is NO BAN on WATCHING the film in India and no order to that effect has been issued by any authority to date,” read the letter by PUCL’s Kavita Srivastava and Anant Bhatnagar.
On Thursday, some students were watching the documentary on their mobile phones, a student told Maktoob over phone. While students watching documentary peacefully, ABVP students tried to disrupt them raising Jai Shree Ram slogans. The cops also reached the spot.
At Thursday night, ABVP students gathered in the basketball raised hate slogans against students who watched documentary critical of PM Modi. “Desh ke gaddaro ko, goli maaro saalon ko” (shoot the traitors of the country” slogans were also raised by the saffron students.
“They barged into our hostel rooms,” a student said.
A day after the incident, on 27 January, the university registrar issued a notice saying that “in the wake of recent development over a documentary controversy over social media and other media platforms, it has been decided by the Competent Authority to enforce a ban of screening the BBC documentary with immediate effect.”
On the same day, the university proctor suspended eleven students.
“An inquiry by Proctorial Board, it is found that …….. is guilty of indiscipline under Central University of Rajasthan Ordinance 47, (Clause 3.3 and 3.5). As per the clause 4.3 of University Ordinance 47, …….., is expelled from both academics and hostel for 14 days with immediate effect,” read one of the orders.
“The University action of suspending the majority of minority students, mainly Muslims by itself shows how communally selective the action has been. These students were never heard. No enquiry gave them a hearing and without the students being given a right to hearing and without being issued show cause notices, they were expelled for 15 days from the university and hostel. Another fact in this episode that has perturbed the PUCL is that the University has used the list provided by the ABVP to target and suspend students, while not taking any action against the ABVP for spreading falsehood, shouting hate slogans and causing ruckus on the campus and the hostel and creating fear and terror amongst the students,” states PUCL.
The rights body said it strongly demands that the expulsion order be rescinded immediately, and the students be reinstated to the university.