The Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bengaluru has declared that it will be closed on Thursday and Friday after students and security personnel of the college were allegedly threatened because of a graffiti against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, The Indian Express reported.
The executive administrator told the students in a mail that the holiday was declared keeping in mind the “potential risk” to students and staff of the institute in Yelahanka New Town in the city. “We understand that these are difficult times and we will all walk and talk about the issues before us together,” the email said.
On Tuesday, Bharatiya Janata Party workers allegedly covered the graffiti with saffron paint claiming that it was offensive and “anti-Modi”, according to PTI. The workers also warned students against leading any agitations against the Citizenship Amendment Act in and around the campus.
The graffiti with the tagline “Sab Changa Si”, or “everything is fine”, was painted on the walls opposite the college.
A statement issued by the students of the institute said the BJP workers were led by Yelahanka BJP MLA SR Vishwanath. It said the BJP workers who had accompanied him allegedly heckled at the students and verbally abused them, including claiming that the students were dressed “inappropriately” and that their behaviour was “anti-Indian”.
“This was followed by a threat to physical violence and safety of the students,” the statement added. “When students and faculty asked them to provide an explanation of what was going on, they continued to rough up vehicles and initially refused to engage with us in any capacity.”
Geetha Narayanan, Founder Director of the institute, told Scroll.in that the incident was an “unnecessary confrontation” and that it was uncalled for. “If anybody has a problem, we would like to sit around the table and talk about it,” she added.
The students in their statements also pushed for a conversation. “We ask openly, is your hatred towards us really because of the length of our skirts, scribbles on the walls or the fact that we occupy parking space,” they said. “What is really bothering you? What are you angry about? Let’s talk about it, lets navigate this non-violently and continue what we do best – to question, converse, listen and create.”
Raghavendra, one of the residents of Yelahanka New Town, filed a complaint on the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Sahaya app that students who parked their vehicles on the footpath outside the campus created inconvenience for pedestrians. He also raised the matter of graffiti on the wall.
Local corporator Satish M arrived at the spot after pictures were sent to him through the app. He claimed that the primary matter was of students parking vehicles on the footpath. “However, the graffiti on the PM was offensive to many, including party workers, and hence was covered using paint,” he said. “There have been recurring complaints from the residents of the areas that the students sit outside on footpaths at night to drink and smoke. Some even raised the issue of the way they dressed but I feel it is their personal choice.”
Meanwhile, Vishwanath alleged multiple complaints were raised about the graffiti made by students of the institute. “The concern was raised and the college has been warned after we saw anti-Modi paintings,” he said. “Let the students not vandalise public property and instead protest with police permission.”
Students of the institute added that the management met them on Tuesday, asking them to follow a dress code and avoid being late at night. “The students have been advised not to gather in public,” a faculty member said. “They were also reminded not to flout laws regarding parking and smoking to avoid any untoward incident with residents or local politicians.”