Historian Audrey Truschke on Wednesday said the Krishnakriti Foundation cancelled her lecture after the Hyderabad Police purportedly told them that several people had written letters of protest against it. The lecture titled “Unpopular Stories: Narrating the Indo-Islamic Past and Navigating Present-day Prejudices” was scheduled for August 11.
Truschke took to social media to announce the cancellation. “I saw only one such letter, and it was from an individual with self-admitted connections to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bharatiya Janata Party and BJPM,” Truschke said. “Today is a sad day for the pursuit of knowledge and academic freedom, and it is a happy day for proponents of the Hindu Rashtra.”
Truschke is an assistant professor of history at Rutgers University. She is the author of Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court and most recently, Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India’s Most Controversial King.
She said her lecture would have focused on her academic research, which includes Mughal history and Sanskrit literature. A description of the lecture on a post she shared said: “Historians often tell stories about the past that conflict with popular narratives and so are met with varying degrees of resistance. In this talk, I explore that set of tensions using examples from my recent and ongoing research, including Aurangzeb’s military assaults in the Deccan, the alleged role of Islam in the demise of Indian Buddhism, and Indo-Islamic political history written in Sanskrit. In each case, I situate my arguments against a popularly accepted view and explore the methodologies and goals of historians, as well as the pushback we increasingly receive, in complicating our understanding of the Indian past.”
Hyderabad Commissioner of Police Anjani Kumar told Scroll.in that there were some “procedural issues” related to the lecture but did not elaborate. This article will be updated when Kumar specifies the details of the matter. The city police’s public relations officer said he would respond to queries later.
A report in the Deccan Chronicle quoted an unidentified member of the Krishnakriti Foundation as saying that the cancellation was “unfortunate”. “The organisers were unable to find a secure location in Hyderabad,” the official said. “A cycle of discussion was held among various city-based culture and heritage enthusiasts, who offered to hold the event, however, foreseeing trouble, the talk has been called off.”
A representative of the Krisnakriti Foundation told Scroll.in they would reply to queries soon.