The North East Cell of Shri Ram College of Commerce on Thursday cancelled a scheduled panel discussion on the Citizenship Act protests because of the “possibility of violence on campus”.
The university reportedly came under pressure from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad – the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, according to The Wire. The discussion was titled: “Why the North East India is protesting?”
“In an emergency meeting held [with some student representatives from the Cell] mere hours before the event, the administration and the principal informed us that the event is cancelled due to unavoidable circumstances,” the organisers said in a statement.
“We were told that they received information about the possibility of violence on campus if the event was to take place,” they added.
The organisers were also told that there was apparently no balance in the panel because all the speakers had the “same bent of mind”. The speakers who were invited for the discussion included Pradyot Manikya Barman, the erstwhile maharaja of Tripura and also a petitioner in the Supreme Court against the Citizenship Act, professor Amrapali Basumatary from the department of English at Kirori Mal College, writer and independent researcher Leki Thungon, research scholar and activist Nayan Jyoti, and journalist Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty.
They were told they could conduct the discussion later as it was “unwise” to have it during the current climate.
“We insisted that this was not a politically motivated event and that it was conducted because there exists a complete lack of awareness about the North East protests in [the] college,” the organisers added. “This discussion was the need of the hour which garnered immense support and we were expecting a large crowd of students [from] all over the [Delhi University] campus”.
The North East Cell said they were appalled by the messages circulated by the students’ union, which claimed that the event would “indulge [in] violence and spread misleading information among the students”.
“Our speakers have years of experience and research to back any statement they make and but the union didn’t have any issue [other than] blatantly attacking their credibility,” the statement said.
The students’ union in a letter to Principal Simrit Kaur sought cancellation of the event. “This seminar is based on one-sided ideologies on the CAA Act which may indulge [in] violence and misleading information among the students,” they said. “Furthermore, the government has already circulated to educational institutions regarding spreading awareness about the facts and right information about CAA. Being a responsible institution, SRCC must not accept this seminar which is against the norms of social welfare. So the students’ union considering the interests of the majority, request you to cancel the permission to host the seminar”.
The letter also stated that if the event was not cancelled, they would want permission to conduct a seminar that will include the “same kind of one-sided ideologies”.
The students’ union members also went to the principal’s office with police personnel from the Maurice Nagar station and Intelligence Bureau officials, The Wire reported, citing unidentified people in the administration. The officials told her that ABVP members may resort to violence inside the campus if the event was allowed to happen.