An Ahmedabad-based college on Sunday cancelled its annual festival after some students protested against an invitation issued to Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani as chief guest. The event at HK Arts College was cancelled after the trust governing the institution refused to provide a hall, allegedly after pressure from some Bharatiya Janata Party student leaders, The Indian Express reported.

The annual festival was to be held on Monday, principal Hemant Kumar Shah told the newspaper. “We had invited Jignesh Mevani for the same 15-20 days back after he consented to be the chief guest,” he said. “We wanted to invite him since he is a former student of the college. However, some student leaders who are from BJP, who did not like this and who are actively associated with Gujarat University, gave threats to the trust and to me, saying they will create ruckus at the function even if there is police presence.”

Shah said he and Vice Principal Mohanbhai Parmar were determined to proceed with the function, but the trust refused to allocate the hall meant to be used for an award ceremony. “The function cannot be held in the courtyard of the college as 500-600 students are to be given medals, trophies, certificates etc through the hands of the chief guest,” he said. “Jignesh was ready to come for the function. But when the trust denies us to allot hall, what can we do?”

The principal called the incident “murder of democracy”. “Any person is free to voice his/her thoughts,” he said.

Mevani confirmed to The Indian Express that his invitation was held up by the trustees’ apprehensions. He labelled the behaviour of the college authorities a “display of spinelessness”.

However, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the BJP, said it had nothing to do with the incident. “We do not believe in such superficial politics,” Rutvij Patel, president of
the youth wing, said. “We have nothing to do with this.”