Days after the Ahmedabad University made Ramachandra Guha’s appointment public on October 16, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad threatened the institution with a “radical movement” if the historian continued with “anti-national activities” after joining, shows a letter that has accessed.

The ABVP’s letter to the university’s vice chancellor was written on October 19. On November 1, Guha announced he was not joining the university, “due to circumstances beyond [his] control”. The ABVP is the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

The letter sought the cancellation of Guha’s appointment with immediate effect “in the interest of education and the nation”. The outfit’s city secretary, Pravin Desai, described Guha as a “so-called historian” and a “directionless person”, and claimed that his books and articles “have proven to be destroying Hindu culture and disintegrating the nation”.

The writings had “strengthened the activities of national disintegration, reckless behaviour in the name of personal freedom, freeing of terrorists, [and] freedom of Jammu and Kashmir” on campuses such as Jawaharlal Nehru University and Hyderabad Central University, Desai said.

“To appoint someone controversial like Dr Ramchandra Guha, who has dislike or contempt for our ancient great nation, our best democratic system, best Indian culture accepted by the world...what lessons of humanity will he teach to students is a grave question,” he wrote.

“If such persons will co-operate with anti-national activities and activities for disintegration of India with the help of your institution, Vidyarthi Parishad will lead radical movement against your institution and you will be solely responsible for it,” Desai told the vice chancellor.

The university had said on October 16 that Guha would be appointed as the Shrenik Lalbhai Chair Professor of Humanities and director of the Gandhi Winter School at the School of Arts and Sciences. After the cancellation of his appointment, people familiar with the situation said that high-level political pressure had been brought to bear on the institution’s board members about Guha’s appointment. University officials declined to comment on Guha’s tweet on November 1.

NSUI condemns ‘ABVP intimidation’

The National Students’ Union of India, the student wing of the Congress, rebuked the ABVP for its “thuggery and anti-intellectualism” against Guha. “He [Guha] would have ignited the curious minds of the students of Ahmedabad University,” the NSUI statement said.

The student body alleged that the Narendra Modi-led government was backing the attacks on those who stand in the way of their “war on academic freedom”. The NSUI cited “Rohith Vemula’s institutional murder and the [recommendation] to withdraw of Dalit writer-activist Kancha Illiah’s books from the Delhi University’s curriculum” as examples of attacks on the freedom of expression.