Mumbai Univ Prof Sent on Forced Leave for Remarks on Rahul Gandhi

Several students unions alleged that Soman had made objectionable remarks against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

Updated14 Jan 2020, 09:10 PM IST
3 min read

The Mumbai University has sent Yogesh Soman, director of the department of Academy of Theatre Arts, on forced leave and initiated inquiry against the complaints received against him, PTI reported.

Several students unions alleged that Soman had made objectionable remarks against former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and also against women in general.

Some students of the theatre academy, along with NSUI, AISF and Chhatra Bharti had sat on a dharna in the Kalina campus of the varsity on Monday, 13 January, seeking action against Soman.

Soman had a posted a video on his Facebook and Twitter accounts on 14 December, addressed to Rahul Gandhi, in which he was heard saying: “You truly aren’t Savarkar. You don’t have any qualities of Savarkar. The truth is, you aren’t a true Gandhi either. You don’t have any of the values.”

He had made the video after Rahul Gandhi, at Congress’ Bharat Bachao Rally in New Delhi in December, had said that he would not apologise, amid a controversy over his ‘rape in India’ remark.

“My name is not Rahul Savarkar, it is Rahul Gandhi. I will not apologise for having said something right. Modi should be the one asking for forgiveness from the nation. Modi’s assistant Amit Shah should be asking for forgiveness,” Gandhi had said at the rally.

Protest Withdrawn After Action Against Soman

"Chhatra Bharti Students Union and activists of AISF had started the agitation from 13 January. It was only after the intervention of MLC Kapil Patil, the Mumbai University general secretary issued a letter at 11:30 pm stating that Soman was being sent on forced leave," said Shridhar Pednekar, Mumbai unit president, Chhatra Bharti, on Tuesday.

The protest was withdrawn after action against Soman.

Further, registrar Ajay Deshmukh, in a letter, informed the students that a fact-finding committee will be set up to investigate into the matter and a report will be sought within four weeks, The Indian Express reported.

“We are not related to NSUI. We only want to request the VC that our new director should be appointed on the basis of a solid vision and reputed personality. Most of our faculty can’t teach. Soman has been recruiting his peers from Pune, where he hails from. He is unapproachable and unfriendly. We will continue to fight till Soman tenders his resignation,” The Indian Express quoted Apurva Ingle, cultural secretary of Chhatra Bharati, as saying.

Meanwhile, NSUI Vice President Ajay Mishra’s letter mentioned that Soman’s video had “insulted” the Congress leader. “He claimed that Soman was behaving like a political advocate in the university, and this could provoke clashes among students. The letter requested the V-C to take strict action against Soman and sack him,” The Indian Express reported.

BJP, Congress Take a Dig at Each Other

BJP leader Ashish Shelar, on the action taken against Soman said, “It has been learnt that Congress and left wing students have threatened Yogesh Soman. Isn’t this an act of intolerance?”

To which, Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “Given the instances of intolerance we have been seeing in our country, no BJP member has the right to speak about intolerance.

He further said that government employees should refrain from making political statements.

“Sending him on compulsory leave is not sufficient. His conduct has shown that he is not adhering to the stipulations of the government,” he added.

The first NSUI protest against video took place on 24 December when its members of had gheraoed the Vice-Chancellor’s office. Later, on 28 December, NSUI lodged a complaint against the varsity faculty member at BKC police station.

On 9 January, a protest rally was held, where his effigy was burnt, The Express report added.

(With inputs from PTI, The Indian Express)

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Published: 14 Jan 2020, 09:07 PM IST
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