If you believe Vivek Agnihotri, director of the film Buddha in a Traffic Jam, and his supporters, he was at the receiving end of vicious and violent protests against the screening of his film at Jadavpur University on Friday.
According to Agnihotri, his car was attacked by protesting students, and it was alleged that those championing the cause of "azaadi" were hindering freedom of speech. However, the video above, titled "Vivek Agnihotri’s fearless and honest speech at Jadavpur University", put up by the film’s Youtube channel "I am Buddha", shows the director giving an uninterrupted speech prior to the screening. A constantly present line of text on the video says, 'Vivek Agnihotri tears apart left & Naxals @ Jadavpur University Kolkata.
In this speech, Agnihotri questions the need for borrowing Mao’s ideology. He says, “This Indian soil has given birth to the greatest political thinkers of the world.” His argument: “We gave birth to Chanakya, Ashoka, Krishna, if you read the Gita then you’ll realise that Krishna is the greatest political thinker the world has seen. We bore Gandhi, we bore Subhash Chandra Bose, we bore Vallabhai Patel, we bore Narendra Modi... What is the need to borrow our political thinking from outside India?”
Agnihotri says his film deals with the so-called “intellectual terrorism” being fostered in Indian universities, and a “NGO-Naxal-academia nexus. ”He adds that the current spate of student protests is springing from what is being taught in universities.
“Just like the Taliban is training young people to become jihadis and suicide bombers, there are some professors who are converting students into activists and intellectual terrorists. Kanhaiya Kumar is the best example of that.”
The film was to have been screened on Friday in an auditorium run by the Jadavpur University Alumni Association. However, the association revoked the permission, citing the model code of conduct in place for the Assembly elections. Despite this, Agnihotri decided to go ahead with the plan, screening the film elsewhere on the campus.
Agnihotri claimed his car was attacked by protesting students. However, according to videos of the events and eyewitness accounts those claims were exaggerated.
Once the director left the campus violence erupted. According to students, Agnihotri’s supporters – mostly middle-aged BJP workers – started to heckle them. Titir Chakraborty, a student and associate general secretary of the Arts Faculty Student’s Union, described how the situation then turned very ugly.
She alleged: "Male students were shoved around while women were sexually assaulted. They grabbed our breasts, pushed us, shoved us, manhandled us.”