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Draupadi Controversy: When RSS Disrobed Haryana Central University

Students question the university administration stripping them off their freedom of speech and academic freedom.

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India
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Students from the Central University of Haryana on 21 September staged Mahasweta Devi’s play ‘Draupadi’ to pay a tribute to her. The university administration really appreciated the play, but the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the local villagers were hurt.

The students and teachers were accused of being traitors and Naxals. Since then, IB has been investigating the allegations.

Students question the university administration stripping them off their freedom of speech and academic freedom.
Vandana, a student of the English department, portrayed the lead role in the play. (Photo: The Quint)
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Vandana, who plays the role of Draupadi in the play, says:

We were accussed of being seditious, protesters shouted slogans like ‘will dig our graves’. Why? Because, after 2 months of hard work, to pay homage to Mahasweta Devi, we staged ‘Draupadi’. But after the play got over, within half an hour local villagers and ex-soldiers had started protesting outside and inside the campus gate. Since then, we’re facing a kind of trial in the campus; police interrogation and the media trial. We’re living in a kind of terror, where is our academic freedom?

‘Terror’ of RSS Among University Students

Many students said anyone who doesn’t believe in the RSS ideology faces similar treatment. University administration, through the teachers, makes continuous efforts to threaten the students.

A law student, who requested not to be names, said:

I don’t have enough courage left in me to stand in front of the University administration again. All these people have a lot of power, I only have my studies. If something happens again, my family members will call me back. My career will be spoiled.
Students question the university administration stripping them off their freedom of speech and academic freedom.
(Photo: The Quint)

University Students vs ABVP

An ABVP supporter, Maninder Rao, said that how can anyone abuse the soldiers who die for our country, and that he strongly opposes this. However, he hasn’t read the play.

ABVP and their supporters don’t know the reason for the protests, but they definitely know the motive. And the motive is clear, to establish its dominance over university students, because nothing happens without show of power in places like Haryana. You have to think before speaking each and everything. You can’t say anything on beef, not at all on Kashmir and certainly not on AFSPA. If anyone opposes their stance, then they label them as Communists. Fear looms over you all the time.
Student, Journalism Department
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Will Treating a University Like a Public School Do Any Good?

University teacher Rakesh Meena says that a kind of hate campaign is being run against the teachers and students at the university.

Students question the university administration stripping them off their freedom of speech and academic freedom.
Professor Snehasta. (Photo: The Quint)

An IB investigation is going on against Professor Snehasta, who helped organise the play, and Professor Manoj. After the incident, IB allegedly questioned Professor Snehasta regarding her marital life.

Students question the university administration stripping them off their freedom of speech and academic freedom.
Professor Rakesh Meena. (Photo: The Quint)
I teach subjects like Human Rights and Armed Conflict, now it’s a fearful situation for me about what I can say in class, because in such subjects there’s also discussion against the government’s policies. यूनिवर्सिटी पर आरएसएस और पब्लिक स्कूलीकरण की विचारधाराओं को लादा जा रहा है. The thinking is that, first, there shouldn’t be any room left for disagreements in university. Second, that the students should just concentrate on studies and should stay away from the burning issues in the country and society. My question is that, what kind of a society are we building through such a university. When the students will live in fear, then tomorrow they’ll become citizens who’ve accepted defeat from circumstances. Just think what would happen then.
Rakesh Meena, Teacher, Haryana Central University

Students Raise These Pertinent Questions

Students who have come from far-off states to study here question university administration stripping them off their freedom of speech and academic freedom.

Will students living in fear in a university run by taxpayer’s money give birth to journalists and future citizens? Will mutilation of academic freedom and freedom of speech by right-wing ideology continue in a university?

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  RSS   ABVP   Mahasweta Devi 

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