The governing body of Jai Narain Vyas University in Jodhpur on Thursday suspended English department professor Rajshri Ranawat after she organised a conference where Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Nivedita Menon (pictured above) spoke and displayed an upside-down map of India on February 2. Ranawat was the director of the conference.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-linked youth organisation Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad had protested against Menon’s presence at the event and her speech. Ranawat, 39, was sent a show cause notice by the university the day after the event and had an inquiry instituted against her on February 3.

“I was asked to explain why I had invited such a controversial figure, if I had asked what she was going to say and who had approved her speech and finally, if I had introduced her as someone who is known to make ‘anti-national’ speeches,” Ranawat told She said she had simply invited Menon as a resource person and a political scientist. “I did not know anything about her being controversial,” she said.

Ranawat left the university campus, where she lives alone, on February 3 fearing for her safety as protests raged against her. She sought the university’s and later, the police’s, assistance with security on e-mail from a different city, but neither assured her that she would be safe. She did not appear before the inquiry committee.

She finally returned to Jodhpur on February 14, and received a letter the following day saying the committee had submitted its “interim report” to the university. “The syndicate [governing body] met today and I heard I have been suspended,” she said. “But I have not seen the order yet so do not know the charges.” Another committee has been instituted purportedly to decide on the punishment she is to face.