By Syed Junaid Hashmi
JAMMU: Amid debate over the freedom of expression in India, Political Science department of University of Jammu is under fire from rightwing BJP for having organised a seminar, with the authorities forced to seek an explanation from its head.
Sources told Kashmir Reader that the vice-chancellor (VC) of the university, Prof R D Sharma, has sought a detailed explanation from the Political Science head of the department (HoD) about the seminar themed ‘Pluralism in J&K: Crisis and Way Forward’.
It was organised by a Non-Governmental Organisation in collaboration with the department. Dean Academic Affairs (DAA) of the varsity, Prof Poonam Dhawan, had addressed its inaugural session.
Several academicians and journalists including Prof Radha Kumar, Prem Shankar Jha, Prof Siddiq Wahid, Prof Gul Mohammad Wani, Nandini Bhattacharya, Pradeep Dutta of Times Now, Dr Javed Rahi, and Rajni Shaleen Chopra had participated in the seminar.
The sources said that branding all these as anti-nationals, RSS-led lobby asked the VC to seek an explanation from the HoD, Prof Tajuddin, for allowing the seminar in his department.
The HoD, however, is tightlipped over the issue.
“The issue has been taken care of. I do not want to say anything more,” he told Kashmir Reader.
The pressure created on the VC can be gauged from the fact that a press conference was addressed by BJP leader and former chief of Jammu Mukti Morcha (JMM), Prof Verinder Gupta.
He levelled serious allegations on the organisers of the event, calling all of them “anti-nationals”. He requested governor N N Vohra to take action against them.
The JMM is a creation of RSS. It was formed after BJP-led NDA abandoned the idea of trifurcating Jammu and Kashmir when it came into power in India for the first time in 1998.
Gupta joined BJP and is spokesperson of the party.
He also called upon the governor and asked him to take note of such events happening in the campus and initiate appropriate action against the organisers.
The sources said that several top leaders of RSS and BJP subsequently called the VC and asked him to take action against the department.
The VC immediately wrote to the HoD and asked for the explanation, they added.
As per the sources, the HoD has drafted a detailed reply and is likely to submit the same in the office of the VC.
Apart from the VC seeking explanation from the HoD, sources in the political science department said that an ex-HoD and senior faculty member Anurag Gangal have been harassing two scholars namely Tilak Prabhu Singh and Surinder Kumar for having participated in a seminar.
They added that Gangal, who spends most of the time outside the classroom, has been ridiculing these scholars.
He has been telling the scholars that he won’t teach them in future, the sources said.
“He has been telling these scholars that they are anti-nationals and he can’t teach them. This is so unfortunate. If discussing pluralism in J&K is anti-national, then God save this country,” said a scholar.
The harassed scholars have approached a professor, who was among the organisers of the event, for intervention, the sources said.
Gangal, however, refuted the accusation, saying: “There is nothing like this. There is some confusion. Please meet me after February 29, when I will be back in my office. We can discuss this issue.”
By Syed Junaid Hashmi