A central university in Madhya Pradesh's Sagar withdrew from a webinar on Friday, 30 July, after RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) protested against the choice of speakers and the police warned of a case under Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code if any law and order issue surfaced, reports said.
The varsity in question is Dr Harisingh Gour University and its anthropology department had organised a webinar tying up with the Montclair State University in US on 'Culture and Linguistic Hurdles in the Achievement of Scientific Temper' on 30 and 31 July. The speakers for the webinar included Delhi University professor Apoorvanand, ex-CSIR chief scientist Gauhar Raza, IIT Hyderabad professor Harjinder Singh, among others.
What Did ABVP and the Police Do?
A district functionary of the ABVP had written to the police a few days back calling Gauhar Raza and Apoorvanand of "anti-national mentality and are involved in such such activities", The Indian Express reported.
A day before the webinar was to commence, the Superintendent of Police Sagar, Atul Singh, wrote to the vice chancellor of the varsity, Janak Dulari Ahi, reportedly drawing attention to the references he had got regarding "the past history, anti-national mentality and caste-related statements of the speakers". He further called for a prior agreement on the "subject matter to be discussed and the ideas to be displayed," the daily further reported.
What Did the University Say?
Meanwhile, the university registrar on Thursday wrote to a professor of the Department of Anthropology to get the approval of the Education Ministry for conducting the webinar, and called for postponing the event if no administrative approval was received before the event.
The professor wrote to the ministry the same day, but purportedly received no response, leading to the withdrawal from the event.
"I have withdrawn from the collaboration with US University to hold the webinar. With this, the India chapter is closed. I received a letter from the varsity administration to go ahead only after administrative approval from the ministry of education," the professor, Rajesh Gautam, was quoted as saying by News18.
The webinar was eventually held on Friday, but without the participation of the MP university.
(With inputs from The Indian Express and News18.)