PEOPLE’S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES, RAJASTHAN
PUCL demands an end to the
The PUCL is shocked at the harassment of Dr Rajshree Ranawat and Dr Vinu George of the English Department of Jai Narain Vyas University, Jodhpur, by University authorities, Jodhpur police and the BJP/ABVP outifts along with their fellow vigilante groups . The harassment and relentless persecution is for organizing an academic conference titled “History Reconstrued through Literature: Nation, Identity, Culture”, in which one of the speakers was Prof Nivedita Menon of JNU, whose lecture was mis-reported sensationally in some local Hindi papers on the basis of the claims of one person. Following on this, the university authorities as well as private persons have filed police complaints against all three, and the university authorities have issued show cause notices to Dr Ranawat and Dr George. We condemn this effort of criminalizing and throttling academic freedom.
The escalating atmosphere of persecution of academics, teachers and students by state and university authorities for raising their voices against Hindu right-wing representation of nation and nationhood, have reached absurd proportions. For instance, one of the claims is that Prof Menon insulted the nation by showing an “upside down” map of India. That no map can be upside down because the globe is round, and that it appears upside down only because South has been placed on top of the page, was of course the point of the image. The purpose of the exercise was to drive home an intellectual argument of seeing the world in terms of people and not in terms of territory.
To treat universities as strongholds of political ideologies of any colour rather than spaces for scholarly discussions, reading, thinking and debating, is one of the most “anti-national” acts imaginable.
Dr Ranawat and Dr George had ensured that the widest possible range of political and scholarly views were represented in the conference. They deserve to be congratulated by the university authorities instead of being targeted and intimidated for performing their professional responsibilities well.
We demand that
- the complaints against these teachers be closed immediately. Police harassment in terms of coercing the teachers to come to the police station be stopped.
- Cases be registered against ABVP and other vigilante groups who wish to settle intellectual arguments with the use of force and misrepresented facts and still pursuing when no evidence has been produced.
- University authorities’ donot encourage or succumb to such vigilantism and let scholarship flourish.