More than 50 professors have urged Delhi University to revoke the sanctions imposed on students for watching the BBC documentary on Narendra Modi and the Gujarat riots on campus, pointing out that the century-old institution is not in the business of supporting the government.
The letter, written to vice chancellor Yogesh Singh, begins, “We need not remind you that university is intended to be a location where students and professors feel free to obtain information from any source, decide for themselves, and express themselves freely.
They are grownups who are capable of making their own judgements. We, the teachers and administrators, are not there to control or regulate their opinions or information sources. The sole restriction on using this privilege that applies to all of us is that it must not incite violence or hatred.
Lokesh Chugh and Ravinder Singh, two PhD students, have been suspended from all academic activities, including exams, for a year. Additionally, Delhi University has required six additional students to write written apologies for showing the movie on January 27 without authorization.
According to the academics’ letter, the documentary was never prohibited, and the university did not suspend students from exams since the failure to obtain permission for the film’s screening was not a significant enough crime.
It claims that the two-part video is just a critical analysis of the current government in the context of the plight of Indian Muslims and that some students’ showing of it cannot be seen as a threat to the peace on campus. There was no violence or commotion as a result of the screening.
“As a university community, it is our responsibility to create a secure environment on campus where students can practise critical thinking. It goes without saying that it is not the responsibility of the university to support the government or forbid ideas that are critical of it. We trust that our concerns will be taken seriously and that the aforementioned penalty order will be revoked,” the letter states.
The signatories include Apoorvanand, Nandini Sundar, Satish Deshpande, Sahana Bhattacharya, Bharati Jagannathan, Ira Raja, Nandita Narain, Sucharita Sen, Avinash Kumar, Kaushik Bhattacharya, Manas Maity, and Roshan D’Souza, all of whom attended DU and its colleges. (Kyoto University).
India: The Modi Question, a documentary, critically examines the former chief minister Modi’s role in the 2002 riots as well as the situation of Muslims when he was elected prime minister in 2014. The Center had requested that connections to the movie be removed from Twitter and YouTube.