Saturday, 11 October 2014

Fourth 'Mahishasur Day' on JNU campus ends in fisticuffs

NEW DELHI: The fourth Mahishasur Divas, a day observed annually at JNU, didn't go peacefully this time around. Though the organizer, All India Backward Students' Forum, moved the event back to the post-dinner venue at Kaveri hostel mess-from an afternoon one at the School of Social Sciences auditorium where they held it last year, protests and a scuffle were witnessed outside.

AIBSF members blame Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, for the fuss. "There was a fight between ABVP and the democratic left parties. Slogans were being shouted constantly and they were trying to enter the hall," said AIBSF's Vinay Kumar, adding that they had to wrap up early.

Sandeep Singh of ABVP, who was present at the spot, conceded that the group has been opposed to the programme from the start. "But there was no call from the group. If we had issued one, we'd do it openly," he says. "It was the common students who were protesting. They had just celebrated Durga Puja and were angry with the kind of things that were being said and a magazine that was being distributed. There were minor scuffles." He said several complaints have been registered and a group met the vice-chancellor on Friday.

Pramod Ranjan, editor of the magazine-Forward Press-issued a statement, saying Delhi Police is confiscating its copies. "The October 2014 issue was a special number devoted to 'Bahujan-Shraman tradition' and carries well-researched articles... There is absolutely nothing in the issue that can be described as objectionable under the Indian Constitution," says the statement. On Friday evening, another group stated, "you can't abuse and make fun of our goddess. This hurts our religious sentiments."

"The left groups also protested at the administrative block and we were supported by the JNUSU," said Kumar.

The students' union doesn't have a stand on Mahishasur or Durga but believes that students' "freedom of expression" must not be curbed. "ABVP has a habit of breaking peacefully discussion on something they don't agree with. If you have a problem, come talk about it. You have to respect the diversity of opinion."

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