Skip to main content

BBC documentary row: Punishment to DU students disproportionate to alleged violation

India Academic Freedom Network’s open appeal to the Vice Chancellor, University of Delhi, seeking online support

***
This is to express our anguish over the news of punishment, of varying degrees, to some students of the university for having screened a documentary produced by the BBC. The memorandum regarding the punishment, as published in the media, states that they had violated the ban on screening of the said documentary by the government of India. We want to bring to your notice and it is known to all that the documentary was never banned and is still not banned by the government. So, the ground for disciplinary action does not exist.
The letter says that the students should have taken permission from the authorities 24 hours prior to any demonstration. It is just possible that this condition was not met by the students. But had they done something so serious that the university should take away from them the right to appear in examinations? Had they damaged university property or caused physical violence?
We need not tell you that university is supposed to be a space where students and teachers feel free to get information from any source, decide for themselves and express themselves freely. They are adults and can take decisions for themselves. We, teachers and administrators are not here to police their thoughts or censor their sources of information. The only condition we all must follow while exercising this right is that it should not promote hatred and violence. But the documentary was only a critical examination of the present regime in the context of the situation of Muslims. How could its screening by some students become a threat to order on the campus is beyond our understanding.
Even if the university authorities felt that their order for prior permission was not adhered to, the punishment given is disproportionate to the alleged violation by the students. Their screening had not caused any violence or disturbance. Had the security personnel not interfered with the screening and stopped it forcefully it would have passed peacefully.
We therefore feel that in light of the facts regarding the lawful status of the documentary and the right of the students to get information and have a free discussion on the campus, the university authorities should withdraw the orders penalising the students involved in the screening of the BBC documentary. It is our duty , as university community to make campus a safe space for the students to engage in critical thinking. It is needless to say that it is not the job of the university to defend the government or disallow thoughts critical to it. We hope that our concern would be heard and the said punishment order would be withdrawn.

Comments

TRENDING

'Modi govt's assault on dissent': Foreign funds of top finance NGO blocked

By Rajiv Shah  In a surprise move, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has cancelled the foreign funding license of the well-known advocacy group, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), known for critically examining India's finance and banking sectors from human rights and environmental angle.

Misleading ads 'manipulate, seduce, lure' to market unhealthy harmful food

By Our Representative  The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) in its new report “50 Shades of Food Advertising” has sought to expose how seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive these advertisements can be. Consequences of such advertising are increased intake of unhealthy food products that is associated with obesity and diabetes, it says. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Why's Govt of India reluctant to consider battery storage system for renewal energy?

By Shankar Sharma*  If having so many small size battery energy storage system (BESS) at different locations of the grid, as in the report from Australia (a portfolio of 27 small battery storage projects across three Australian states that will total arounds 270 MWh), is considered to be techno-economically attractive in a commercially driven market such as Australia, the question that becomes a lot more relevance to Indian scenario is: why are our planners not in favour of installing such small size BESS at most of the distribution sub-stations not only to accelerate the addition of RE power capacities, but also to minimise the need for large size solar/ wind power parks, dedicated transmission lines and pumped storage plants; which will also minimise the associated technical losses.

'Failure of governance': India, China account for 54% pollution-related deaths globally

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram*   A recent report jointly prepared by UNICEF and the independent research organization Health Effects Institute has been released, and the statistics within it are alarming. It states that in 2021, air pollution caused the deaths of 2.1 million Indians, including 169,000 children who hadn't yet fully experienced life. These figures are indeed distressing and raise questions about why there hasn't been more serious effort in this direction, putting policymakers to shame. 

New MVA-INDIA MPs asked to raise Maharashtra milk farmers' demand

By Our Representative  All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) national president Dr Ashok Dhawale and AIKS Maharashtra general secretary Dr Ajit Nawale have asked three newly-elected MPs of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA-INDIA) from the milk belt of Maharashtra Dr Amol Kolhe (NCP),  Bhausaheb Wakchaure (SS), and Nilesh Lanke (NCP), to take up the cause of milk farmers of Maharashtra in Parliament.  After congratulating them on their resounding victory over their BJP-NDA rivals, the AIKS leaders apprised them of the milk farmers struggle which is intensifying in the state under the leadership of the AIKS and the Milk Farmers Joint Struggle Committee, and requested them to support it. All three MPs agreed not only to support, but also to take the initiative in this struggle, an official AIKS communique claimed. Farmers in Maharashtra are currently getting as low as Rs 24-27 per litre for cow milk, which is being sold in the market for Rs 56-60 per litre, the AIKS leaders noted. The low price to farmer