The Bharatiya Janata Party unit in Kerala has demanded the removal of author Arundhati Roy’s speech from a Calicut University textbook for the Bachelor of Arts (English) course, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday. The BJP has petitioned Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan to withdraw her 2002 “Come September” speech from the textbook.
“Dissent is brewing among academics and the general public against the inclusion of this speech, which is anti-national,” state BJP President K Surendran told Khan, the chancellor of the university, in a letter. “Roy has stated that India has unleashed terror on the non-violent struggle for the independence of Kashmir.”
Surendran claimed the speech threatened the sovereignty and integrity of India. He said the speech was an insult to brave Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives to protect the country’s borders, The Times of India reported.
Surendran added that at the venue for the speech, Roy was introduced by textbook editors Murugan Babu and Abida Farooqi, who spoke against the hanging of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, terming it a “dark chapter” in India’s history. He also alleged that in her speech, the writer called Hindus fascists. “The text of the speech should be removed from the syllabus,” Surendran demanded.
The textbook is called “Appreciating Prose” and is meant for the third semester of the BA course in English Language and Literature. The syllabus was changed last year.
Farooqui said that a 10-member panel of the Calicut University’s board of studies recommended including the speech in the syllabus last year, and was backed by the Academic Council. “The speech had appeared in periodicals,” Farooqui, chairperson of the board, said. “So far, none has raised any allegation against it. In the textbook committee also, nobody objected to its inclusion.”
Calicut University Registrar CL Joshi said the Academic Council of the university will take a decision on the matter. “We cannot say whether colleges have unofficially decided not to teach that speech,” he said.